The Cambridge Public School District in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the first in the state to close in observance of an Islamic holy day. Today, students and teachers will have the day off, as a district committee voted last year to close for one Muslim holiday each year.
The holiday – Eid al-Adha — is also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice” (last week, the Blaze covered a Florida legislature’s attempts to block animal slaughters associated with this observance). It is one of the two “high holy days” that are observed by Muslims.
Schools will not be closed for the second holiday, Eid-ul-Fatr (celebrating the end of Ramadan), as this holy day occurs in August (at the end of the summer). If both holidays do end up falling during an academic year, the district will only close for one of them.
“We’re ecstatic about this,” says Atif Harden, the interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “This is the first year that it’s going to occur. This sort of recognition of our existence and the population we have, we feel very good about.”
The decision to close the district down in observance of the Islamic holiday came after Muslims students approached staffers, administrators and students at a school in the district in an attempt to launch a discussion about their faith. After meetings were held and leaders considered the fact that there is a large Muslim population in the district, the decision was solidified.
Officials claims that the size of the Muslim population as well as a general push for inclusiveness are the reasons behind the policy change. Currently, the district closes for some Jewish and Christian holidays, thus closing for an Islamic holiday is being defended as a common-sense ideal.