I shutdown the schools on Eid!

Your’s Truly. Delivering for the community.

You know that I am currently running for Maryland State Delegate, but did you know that I have been working for progressive change in our community for many years as a private citizen?

One of the things I am most proud of is that in 2015 — after many years of trying — I convinced Montgomery County Public Schools to give all students days off on the two annual major Muslim holidays: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. This decision afforded Muslim students equal treatment to their peers since Montgomery Schools had already been closing on the major Jewish & Christian holidays for many years. I’m thankful for the terrific leadership at the time from other elected officials like County Councilman George Leventhal and School Board Members Jill Ortman-Fouse and Mike Durso. (Here is the Washington Post story about this important change)

Montgomery County schools won’t have classes on one of the Islamic faith’s major holidays next year, a significant victory for the local Muslim community after years of lobbying for the same treatment as Christians and Jews.

Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 6 to 2 to support a measure that would move a professional work day for teachers and administrators to Sept. 12, 2016, when the holy day of Eid al-Adha could fall next year. The holiday, which varies year to year and is based on a lunar calendar, is expected on Sept. 11, a Sunday, or on Sept. 12.

The decision marked a long-sought change in the 156,000-student suburban Washington school system, Maryland’s largest.
“It’s huge,” said Saqib Ali, a former state lawmaker who has been a leader of the effort. Without the change, he said, “my daughters are not equal to all of their little playmates in the neighborhood, their Christian friends, their Jewish friends. Who could be against equality?”

Ali said he thinks the decision would touch off change in other school systems; New York City began giving students Muslim holidays off this year. “I think the fact that New York granted this helped the effort here, and I don’t think it’s going to stop here,” he said.

Granting Muslim kids in Montgomery County days off on their religious holiday didn’t just benefit them. It had major salutary effects for other communities too: Soon afterward, Montgomery County also granted days off for the Hindu festival of Diwali and Chinese Lunar New Year. Howard County followed. Baltimore County closed schools on Muslims holidays. And I expect this domino effect to continue throughout our area!

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