New York City and some other school districts on the East Coast and in the Midwest have designated the Muslim celebrations of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as official school holidays.
Both are very important holidays in the Muslim religion. Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Fitr comes at the end of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day.
Now, two high school students in the Highline school district are asking their school board to do the same.
Guled Ahmed and Bashar Abokar, who are both entering their junior year at Tyee High School in Sea-Tac, collected about 600 signatures on a petition and presented it to the school board Wednesday night. Both students are of Somali heritage.
“If Highline school district leads the way, then it’s going to spread awareness to other districts, like Seattle school district and Kent, and other districts in the area, and it could probably have them have those days off, too,” Ahmed said.
South Seattle and South King County are home to significant numbers of immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries, such as Somalia. Ahmed said 60 students had excused absences from his school so they could observe Eid al-Fitr.
“Students feel like when they have school during Eid that they are compelled to choose school over faith, so it’s fair for our religious holiday to be recognized,” Ahmed said.
In New York City, school also is closed for the major Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Last year, the start of kindergarten in the Seattle school district coincided with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which forced some families to choose between observing the holiday with their children or sending them to school.
State Superintendent Chris Reykdal wrote to school districts in May 2018 that many children end up missing school to observe major religious holidays.
“For this reason, OSPI encourages districts not to schedule significant school events on major religious holidays,” Reykdal wrote. “Schools that plan around major religious holidays convey to all students that they are a meaningful part of their school communities and that their religious traditions matter.”