NC School District Adds Muslim Holiday After Parent Petition

‘We’re at that level where we’re large enough to be recognized…’

North Carolina County Adds Muslim Holiday to Students' Days Off 1

Mariya Shaikh / IMAGE: CBS 17 via Youtube

(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) North Carolina’s Wake County school board approved an additional day off for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, a day that marks the end of Ramadan.

Local parent Mariya Shaikh started a petition in October to get the holiday added to the school calendar, and it garnered more than 4,000 signatures in 10 days.

“Now it means our kids don’t have to choose between going to school or celebrating the holiday with their family,” Shaikh told Channel 11, a local ABC News affiliate.

“When kids are younger, in pre-school, kindergarten maybe it’s easier to take the day off from school but as they get into older grades, especially when they’re getting towards EOG testing time, or they’re getting into high school, you miss a lot of instruction time if you don’t go to school.”

Shaikh said that because North Carolina’s schools recognize Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday, and two Hindu holidays, they should include Muslim holidays as well.

“We’re the academia,” Shaikh said. “We’re business owners. We contribute to this economy. We’re a thriving segment of the population. And we’re at that level where we’re large enough to be recognized. We have a lot of kids in the public school system who are impacted with these choices that they have to make so I think it’s high time that the board listens to us.”

Muslim students shouldn’t have to choose between missing class and celebrating their religion, Shaikh said.

“Sometimes it takes them a couple of days to make up for what they miss on that one particular day so they would rather go,” she said. “Even though it’s an excused absence if it’s a religious observance, they still miss instructional time.”

A spokeswoman for Wake County Public School system said the decision was made because the board wants the school calendar to reflect the community, which is just over one percent Muslim, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.

“Over years we have grown. We have shown our presence,” Shaikh said.