Philly Schools Plan to Recognize Two Muslim Holidays

The city is home to an estimated 200,000 Muslims.

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in the Pennsylvania Capitol meeting with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state legislators seeking funds for Philadelphia Schools during state budget talks Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite announced today that the district will start recognizing two Muslim holidays. | Photo by Bradley C. Bower/AP

The Philadelphia School District is planning to add two major Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, to its calendar starting in the 2017-18 school year.

District officials, City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., and the Philadelphia Eid Coalition unveiled the news Tuesday. “I’m honored and proud to announce that the school district fully intends to honor the Eid celebrations for the many Muslim students and staff that celebrate these holidays,” said Superintendent William Hite in a statement.

Eid al-Fitr is a day of celebration that follows the month-long observance of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha is the holy day following the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The Philadelphia Eid Coalition has called on the city and schools to recognize the Muslim holidays since 2015. Jones sponsored a resolution, which Council unanimously approved in January, that also pushed the two entities to add the holidays to their calendars.

“William Penn established Philadelphia as a city for religious freedom,” said Jones on Tuesday. “Today we continue our founder’s creed by the recognition of the Eids for our Islamic community.”

The city is home to an estimated 200,000 Muslims.

The addition of the two dates for the 2017-18 school year must be approved by the School Reform Commission. District officials said students and teachers who want to recognize the holidays during the 2016-17 year can take an excused absence.

Mayor Jim Kenney also announced Tuesday that he is creating the Mayor’s Task Force on Cultural Inclusion, which will look into whether to add the two Muslim holidays to the city’s calendar, as well as other issues. Such changes would ultimately need to be approved by the city’s labor unions, according to the Kenney administration.

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