Laila Khan, 11, a Montclair Muslim student couldn’t have a day off during the Muslim holiday `Eid Al-Fitr.
Seeking to change the status quo, the fifth grader started a petition which generated thousands of signatures and eventually resulted in adding the Muslim holiday to the calendar of Montclair Board of Education.
“I’m so happy that our community can freely celebrate `Eid and recognize it as an important holiday,” Laila Khan, 11, told Montclair Local.
“I’m really looking forward to next `Eid.”
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Laila emailed her principal at Bradford School, Frances Aboushi, who is also Muslim, saying it isn’t fair that Montclair students had other holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur off from school, but not `Eid.
“Think about how you would feel if you had to take an excused absence, knowing you’ll miss a practice test and you will need to take the real test next day,” Laila told the board June 2.
“Think about how you felt when you were excluded in any part of your life — that couldn’t have felt good.”
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Board member Allison Silverstein thanked Laila for speaking at the meeting, saying all students deserve recognition.
“I do feel excluded that Christmas is automatically off but I don’t care about that day, yet my most religious day of the year, I have to take a day off,” Silverstein said.
“As a community, this is something we can do to show everyone how inclusive we are.”
The Islamic Hijri Calendar is a lunar one, thus the observance of `Eid Al-Fitr revolves throughout the seasons.
A growing number of American school districts have begun to recognize the Muslim holidays.
Earlier this year, Lewiston Maine added the Islamic holidays to the public schools calendar, allowing Muslim students to celebrate their holiday normally.
The Baltimore County Board of Education approved unanimously in November, 2019, to close public schools for students on `Eid holidays when they land on a school day.