Schools all over the United States have stepped back from celebrating or even acknowledging any religious holidays. Calendars have been stripped of the word “Christmas” in the name of diversity and to not offend anyone that does not celebrate the holiday. It seems this was done to quietly accept the fact that more and more immigrants coming into the states are not Christians.
With a line drawn to separate church and state, it seems odd that in the state of Iowa there is a movement to force everyone that attends public school to celebrate Muslim holidays. The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) moved towards making Islamic holy holidays mandatory while glossing over the fact that they are not allowed to celebrate Christian based holidays. This means tax dollars will go directly to supporting Islam in classrooms.
The issue tied to the Muslim holidays came to light at a school board meeting on February 8th of this year. Young Muslim students were organized to make a presentation to the board.
They made their demands pretty straightforward, the area is changing, and the school needs to reflect this change. It was obvious the children were used by their parents and members of the community in a well-rehearsed public speech.
As they stood to speak at microphones that had to be lowered to meet the short stature of the children, their logic was simple.
The school should be closed on days that are important to the Muslim faith because more and more Muslims are moving into Iowa.
They are pushing for the Muslim faith to be honored and acknowledged well beyond any other religion in the schools.
Even though the religion by no means is the most prevalent in the area, somehow the schools should close specifically for two holidays only celebrated by those who follow the Islamic faith.
A request to close for both Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha seems a bit far-reaching for a public school. The school-aged visitors to the board meeting shared that closing for the holidays would benefit many people as the Muslim population moves in.
What they did not share is the fact that no other religion enjoys this type of treatment.
While most schools close for a winter break that includes Christmas and New Years, this is not a direct reason for students to take any particular day off.
For the most part, federal holidays like Christmas signal things like businesses being closed and vacation time for the majority of the population. This is not the case for Islamic holidays.
Having to close the schools to celebrate Muslim holidays puts many at a disadvantage.
For the majority of students, the parents would more than likely need to go to work anyway. These are not federally protected holidays.
Forcing families to have kids out of school for a holiday only a few students celebrate seems a bit overwhelming for the masses. Parents would now need to figure out how to handle missing work or paying extra for a sitter.
It also seems unfair to not allow any mention of Christmas in most classrooms but force students to miss school for an Islamic holiday.
Beyond the hardship families would face having to deal with two days out of school that is not tied to anything most employers would understand, there were other issues with the two holidays in question.
Even though the schools have not yet decided to close for the two Muslim holidays, they have allowed celebrations for the holidays to occur on school grounds.
In May of 2018, at least one school in the ICCSD will celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with a party. The odd thing about this party is that the holiday will not occur this year during the school year.
Webber Elementary School in Iowa City will set aside a day in May to honor Eid Al-Fitr. This event was created by a group of students because they asked why they could not celebrate Islamic holidays as other students celebrated Halloween.
Webber principal Yaa Appiah-McNulty took the students request to heart and allowed the group to create a school-wide event based on the highly religious day.
According to report about the school celebration:
“Eid -ul -Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when the Muslims thank Allah for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe fast and obey His commandment during the holy month of Ramadha.”