Muslim Holiday Marked by Massachusetts School District

The Cambridge school system in Massachusetts will be the first in the district to give all students a day off for a Muslim holiday, writes Fox News. The holiday was approved by the school committee last year, in acknowledgement of the district’s sizable Muslim population.

Tuesday will mark Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, the Boston Globe reports.

“We’re ecstatic about this,” Atif Harden, interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, told the Globe.

“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.”

While federal law requires schools to accommodate the religious needs of students in observance of holy days, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education leaves decisions about how to do that up to individual school districts.

Marc McGovern, a member of the Cambridge School Committee who pushed for the Muslim holiday, believes that other school districts in the state have not approved a day off for Islamic holy days maybe because their Muslim student populations are not big enough for the holiday to make sense.

McGovern also said that he got some criticism and even threats when he approved of the holiday. But Superintendent Jeffrey Young told the Globe that honoring the holiday is in line with the district’s values of “inclusion and respect.”

Samuel M. Gebry, a 2009 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School wrote in the Cambridge Chronicle that he was happy that his Muslim peers in Cambridge are now able to celebrate a very special holiday without having to miss school.

“Had it not been for the resounding and resilient voice of students, the Cambridge School Committee would have probably not given much attention to the idea of celebrating a Muslim holiday. But it was students, with the support of faculty, administrators and elected officials, who engineered this victory—a victory for ‘Opportunity, Diversity, Respect.’”