Thursday, June 08, 2006

Muslim group:
Jewish Holidays
School Calendar

First they come for the Jews:

A Muslim group is demanding that the Baltimore County school system remove Jewish holidays from the 2006-07 school calendar.

The demand comes after a nearly three-year battle between the Baltimore County Muslim Council and the school system over adding two Islamic holy days, Id al-Fitre and Id al-Adha, to the school calendar.

Next school year's calendar, proposed May 10 and due to be voted on by the school board June 13, does not include the two Muslim holy days. But the calendar does list the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, meaning schools are closed those days.

Dr. Bash Pharoan, president of the Muslim council, said it is not fair for the county to recognize one religion while ignoring others. He said if the school board does not vote to allow the two Muslim holidays, then the Jewish holidays should be dropped.

"This issue is about equality, about equity," he said....

"This is an attempt to wage de-facto warfare between Muslims and Jews in Baltimore County," said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

"This has nothing to do with the best interests of the school district nor the students," he said, calling the attempt to do away with the Jewish holidays "religious discrimination."

Abramson said the school system's decision to add the Jewish holidays was purely economic.
The school system, he said, adopted the holidays largely because it was too costly to hire substitutes to fill in for observant Jewish teachers.

A school system representative did not return phone calls, but according to the schools' Web site, substitute teacher pay starts at $59.66 and can go as high as $103.05 a day.

Abramson said that when the schools have more Muslim teachers and students, the Muslim holidays will be added to the closings list....

The committee agreed to allow both Muslim students and teachers excused absences on their holy days. At the same time, the panel agreed to monitor the number of absences and make a determination if the days off were needed.

Pharoan called that "racial profiling."...

But Pharoan says the issue isn't about religion.

This is "not about celebrating religious holidays," he said, "this is about equal treatment of all county tax-paying residents."

Pharoan said his goal is not to rid Jewish students and teachers of their holidays.
"I just want to be treated the same. It is only fair," he said.

Pharoan said he would be satisfied if the board allowed one of the two Islamic holidays.

Of course, he will be. But, let's see, the Christians have quite a few Holidays; two weeks for Christmas, a week for Easter, etc. And, the Presidents Days, Memorial Day, etc., those are Christian Holidays, aren't they? After all, they are the holidays of a Christian culture. Surely, we can add some Islamic culture holidays as well.

Where will this end?

At this point, Muslims make up a very small percentage of our population, and yet, they want to be represented equally with the majority populations; the populations who built this nation.