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In push for Muslim school holiday, some Montgomery students will stay home

14 October 2013 General 14 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post -  Hannah Shraim, 14, her father Ihab Shraim and mother May Salloum-Shraim in the family kitchen.The Shraim has two high schoolers who will not be in school for the Muslim holiday Eid.

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post – Hannah Shraim, 14, her father Ihab Shraim and mother May Salloum-Shraim in the family kitchen.The Shraim has two high schoolers who will not be in school for the Muslim holiday Eid.

By Donna St. George, The Washington Post

On other holidays, the choice has been difficult: Education or faith? But this year, with the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, the Shraim family decided against school. Their teenagers might fall behind in their classes. They might feel torn. But they will stay home to celebrate.

The Germantown family is joining others across Montgomery County in an effort to make the Islamic holy day into a full-fledged school holiday. They point out that school is closed for Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. It also is closed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

They ask why a holiday wouldn’t similarly be given for Eid al-Adha, one of two major Muslim holidays, in a county with a growing Islamic community. There are no county or census figures on the Muslim population, but community leaders say that Muslims number at least in the “tens of thousands.” Montgomery’s population is nearly 1 million.

“It’s like we don’t feel equal to other people who get their holidays off,” says Hannah Shraim, 14, a sophomore at Northwest High School in Germantown.

School officials say they give excused absences to students who miss classes on religious holidays and that they can’t legally close schools for religious reasons. But the issue is gaining attention as Muslim leaders step up a call for equity and encourage Muslims and non-Muslims to keep children home Tuesday.

In recent weeks, Muslim leaders have started a petition drive, called a news conference and won the backing of a string of elected leaders and religious groups including a Lutheran church and a Jewish organization.

“We think this is very much a civil rights issue, and we’ve had a strong response from people of all faiths,” said Saqib Ali, a former state legislator and co-chair of the recently formed group Equality for Eid Coalition.

Among elected officials supporting the group’s effort is County Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), who is Jewish and said he intends to keep his son home that day. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Montgomery school officials say that, legally, granting a day off requires a secular rationale, such as an impact on instruction because of a high rate of absenteeism. Last year, the school board asked staff to examine attendance patterns on the Muslim holiday.

Figures from the past three years show Muslim holidays had little impact on attendance, school officials said. Last year, Eid al-Adha fell on a Friday, and 5.56 percent of students were absent, similar to other Fridays. About 6.5 percent of staff was absent, which was fairly typical, they said.

Maryland law designates public school holidays from the Friday before Easter through the Monday afterward and also gives time off for a period surrounding Christmas.

In the 1970s, Montgomery began giving students days off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah when the holidays fell on school days. “Our understanding is that decision was made for operational reasons,” Montgomery schools spokesman Dana Tofig said.

Forty years later, Muslim leaders say their concern about Islamic holidays goes back a number of years and has increased as the Muslim community has grown and more people have been affected.

>>Continue reading: In push for Muslim school holiday, some Montgomery students will stay home



  1. The best way to help youth accept other religions: give them days off for their holidays

  2. How about no school holidays for any religion, that would be a step in the right direction. No Christmas , no Yom Kippur etc only non religious holidays. Ie… Veterans Day, Labor Day

  3. As a teacher, I am telling you that we need those holidays. Call them whatever you want. Kids and teachers alike need the down time.

  4. I’m not saying teachers don’t need breaks but I’m against the holidays being religious is nature, I am also a fan of year round schooling with 3, 3 week breaks spread out during the year.

  5. my daughter is the only muslim at her school, so I’ve always kept her home, and the school doesn’t give us an issue. because we live in a rural area, they also let her off school for picking and canning. but she’s young- not like high school, where there’s tests. I think this school district is wrong- if they’re giving students off the major Christian and Jewish holidays, they need to give off Eid. The problem is that everyone will want their holiday off. It becomes quite sticky.

  6. “Eid Mubarak!” my brothers and sisters!

  7. i am black. i am white. i am a woman. i am a man. i am yellow. i am brown. i am a muslim. i am a christian. I am a Jew. I am rich. I am poor. i am strong. i am weak. I am a leader. I am a follower. I am somebody for everybody. United we stand, divided we fall.

  8. there are a lot people who hate chritianity and nobody has a problem with that! its my choise to be islamophobic, you are retarded demanding to forbid that. you restrict the freedom of other people by that, atheists for examle. leave our free world and go to islamic countries if you cant acccept that there are people who feel free to offend your religion

  9. There are people too who feel ofended when they see that retarded burkas and hijabs. we should protest and demand to ban wearing that bullshit!

  10. after you had red that, ban me, because that is islam too, censorship – another sign islam is a totalitarian system like hitler’s nazi or communism

  11. ^^ mad brew?

  12. I think its a great idea!!!

  13. […] In push for Muslim school vacation, some Bernard Law Montgomery students will … […]

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