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Muslim Leader Asks Teaneck, N.J. District To Close School On 2 Muslim Holidays

Movement Appears To Have Legs And Support, But Won't Happen Right Away
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Muslims praying

Muslims Praying (Photo: CBS 2)

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TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — School districts have traditionally identified religious holidays for closing school. Now a Muslim leader is asking for equal time, closing schools on two Muslim holidays.

With north Jersey’s Muslim community growing in recent years, and Teaneck having two mosques, there is a call for the town’s schools to observe Muslim holy days, and close, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.

“A lot of Muslims living in Teaneck, and it’s just natural we want our holidays to be recognized just as other faith groups,” said Waheed Khalid of the American Muslim Union.

Khalid and members of a local mosque said there are 300 to 500 Muslim families in Teaneck.

He wants the school district to close schools on two holidays called Eids — the first one at the close of Ramadan and the second two months and 10 days later, and he’s got support.

“I say, why not? We have Christian holidays, and there are Jewish holidays in there,” resident Inran Khaja said.

There’s even support from one 88-year-old Catholic, a Russian Jew and others.

“I mean, adding a couple of days for Muslim holidays, I don’t see a problem,” Danny Roman said.

In New York City schools, this was resolved by giving “release time … allowing students to miss class for a religious reason without being marked absent,” according to Margie Feinberg of the Department of Education.

Teaneck may consider the same remedy, but Khalid said it puts a stigma on a student who misses class, saying it’s not sufficient.

“That’s not good enough, makes you feel like second-class citizen,” Khalid said.

As for now, the Schools Superintendent Barbara Pinsak said the calendar is set for next year. Schools are required to provide 180 days of instruction. Pinsak said Muslim parents have not come to her to ask for the days off.

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