‘City closes schools for extra day a year so Muslims can celebrate religious holiday’

Schools in the city of Cambridge, in Massachusetts, will close for one Muslim holiday a year, local officials have announced. Authorities in the U.S. city said the new scheme, which will be introduced from 2011-2012, is the first of its kind in the state. The schools will close for either Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, depending on which falls within the school year.

Cambridge School Committee member Marc McGovern said schools in the city currently close for Christian and Jewish holidays and Muslims should be treated no different. Officials voted unanimously in favour of the idea back in December and it was officially announced on Sunday that the change would be introduced from next year.

“At a time when I think the Muslim population is being characterised with a broad brush in a negative way, I think it’s important for us to say we’re not going to do that here,” Mr McGovern said. “The issue that sort of came up was should we celebrate any religious holidays, but there was not the will to take away Good Friday or one of the Jewish holidays. So I said, if that is the case, I think we have an obligation to celebrate one of the Muslim holidays, as well.”

Daily Mail, 12 October 2010

Update:  You’ll note the provocative headline to the story, which is obviously intended to appeal to the anti-Muslim prejudices of Daily Mail readers. It did so only too successfully, and further online comments on the article have now been blocked and existing comments removed.