Push to close Montgomery County schools for Muslim holidays

WASHINGTON – Public schools close around Jewish and Christian holidays, and some in Montgomery County are pushing for schools to include Islamic holidays in their closures.

“It’s about human rights, and it’s also about fairness,” says Mimi Hassanien of Germantown, Md., who has lived in the U.S. for 43 years.

“We’re all American, that’s No. 1. I consider myself American Muslim before I consider myself anything else.”

Hassanien, whose three children were born and raised in the U.S., wants to see her 15 grandchildren given the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Adha off.

The holiday that marks the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca falls on Oct. 15. It’s currently considered an excused absence in Montgomery County and the school system doesn’t give tests on that day.

But Hassanein says Muslim children shouldn’t have to choose between missing a day of school and following their faith.

A coalition of local Muslims called the Equality for Eid Coalition, which formed a year ago, wants students and staff members not to attend classes Oct. 15 and to celebrate Eid al-Adha, The Gazette reports.

The push to close schools on Eid-al-Adha is supported by Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal.

He says he’ll keep his own son home from school on Oct. 15 as a show of solidarity with members of the Islamic community.

In addition to closing schools on that date, the coalition wants schools to close on the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and for the next several years falls during the school system’s summer break.

The Equality for Eid Coalition is asking supporters to sign a petition to support its efforts to close schools on Eid holidays.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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