East Brunswick residents push to get Muslim holiday Eid added to school holiday calendar
Muslim families in a Middlesex County town are pushing to get a religious holiday added to the school calendar.
Thursday’s East Brunswick School Board meeting was filled to capacity to push the district to add the Eid holiday to the school calendar. Many families say that students often fall behind in school because they must miss class to celebrate with their families.
“I made a lot of sacrifices. I had mounds of homework to make up. And 20 years later, I don’t want that for my kids. I want my kids to celebrate their holiday like it should be celebrated,” says Erum Shakir.
There are two Eid celebrations on the Muslim calendar. One is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, which is a month-long period of fasting and prayer. The second is celebrated on the 10th day of the 12th Islamic month. Thirty-four school districts in New Jersey have incorporated Eid into their school calendars, including nearby towns like Edison, Sayreville and South Brunswick.
“A lot of holidays that we have taken off are just as important as Eid,” says seventh grader Seynabou Dia. “But Eid still doesn’t have a day off and Muslims have protested and tried so hard to be in the position we are today.”
“It’s really important to see that our holiday be recognized. It’s important that they feel included. It’s important that when they take the day off for Eid…when they take that day off, they don’t hear anything from their teachers about having to make up work,” says Shua Ajmeri, of the East Brunswick Eid Committee.
According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), New Jersey has the highest population density in America of people who identify as Muslim. East Brunswick residents say they’ve been actively pushing to have one day of the Eid holiday added to the calendar for at least a decade.
“We have a great opportunity here to make sure the Muslims here are recognized,” says Zaid Hussein, of CAIR.
It was not clear if the district would be adding Eid to the school calendar. Currently, the holiday counts as an excused absence for students who do take off.