Muslim parents are outraged after learning that the Hewlett-Woodmere School District in Long Island, New York
has again rejected adding two Muslim holidays to the 2018-2019 school closings calendar. After nearly four hours of heated debate from the public, the Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education voted NOT to approve school closings for the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Muslims comprise only a tiny minority of students in this district.
LI Herald “The common reason for discomfort in adding the Eid holidays was a lack of confidence in having a strong enough secular purpose for adding the holiday,” said Board President Scott McInnes. He stressed that the decision was influenced by discussions with legal counsel, not by comments made by the public last week.
Emotions ran high when roughly 200 parents, students, alumni and residents attended a Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education work session on Jan. 10, at which trustees decided against including the Muslim holidays of Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha on the 2018-19 school calendar.
Eid al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day. On Eid al Fitr, they feast with family members and friends after a morning prayer, and children often receive gifts in honor of the good deeds they performed during Ramadan. Eid al Adha marks the end of the Hajj, or trip to Mecca, when family and friends gather to reflect on family values and sacrifice.
(They also perform the barbaric Islamic ritual of cutting fully conscious animals throats just deep enough so they don’t die instantly, but rather needlessly suffer agonizing pain for serveral minutes beofre they finally succumb and die in the streets. Small children are encouraged to watch and participate in this savage display of animal cruelty thoughout the Muslim world)
Shahnaz Mallik, who has a grandchild in the district, began submitting petitions to the district last February. She collected more than 200 signatures on one of them, but many residents objected to the fact that a majority of the signatures were from people outside the district.
Mallik had also spoken on the issue several times at previous board meetings. “Many Muslims at many schools in this district should have the same opportunity and respect that students of other faiths have,” she said. “Muslim students should be able to celebrate their most holy days of Eid without having to worry about missing any schoolwork.”
The district’s attorney, John Gross, said that he would be comfortable going to court to defend the district’s decision to add the Muslim holidays to the calendar, noting that the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of closing school on religious holidays.
A text message, forwarded to the Herald by several sources after the meeting, urged people to attend the session. The message read, in part, “Most importantly, observance of a Muslim holiday will draw other religious Muslims to the area, which eventually would make our houses value go down, as no decent person would want to buy a house next to that. The demographics will change and our properties will be worthless.”
It was uncertain how widely the message was circulated. But it raised concern about Islamophobia in the Hewlett-Woodmere area. The meeting was tense. Board President Scott McInnes asked people to stop interrupting one another several times.
In an obvious quid pro quo to Muslims for financially supporting his campaign for NYC Mayor, one of DeBlasio’s very first moves upon becoming mayor was to declare that all NYC schools would be closed for two Muslim holidays every year.