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July 6th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Should New York schools close for Muslim holidays?

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/07/05/muslim.school.holidays.cnn%5D

After Imam Khalid Latif, a chaplain for New York University and the New York Police Department, wrote a Belief Blog piece arguing that New York schools should close for important Muslim holidays, CNN invited him on air.

Latif makes an interesting case in the interview: that American Muslims are trying to develop their own contemporary identity and that steps like closing schools for major Muslim holidays would help that process. The implication is that an Americanized Islam–modern and moderate–would benefit all Americans.

Latif was interviewed over the weekend by CNN's Don Lemon.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Leaders

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Havildar

    So we add some Muslim Holidays so what? Does it make your religion less important? Look around the world many of the Muslim countries do Celebrate all the major Christian Holidays and unlike herein the US. Their Churches are filled unlike the US Churches.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jay

      Havildar – my father works in Saudi Arabia and is a Christian American citizen. He always complains to me that he doesn't get Christmas off. Please tell us what Muslim countries these are that you're talking about.

      July 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  2. Bob

    So by your logic then Ben, is April 19th the Christian Holiday for when "christians killed christians". That's the Oklahoma City bombing in case you were wondering. If 9/11 represents all muslims, then April 19th represents all Christians. Your logic, not mine.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • James

      Timothy Mcveigh didn't consider himself a catholic even though he was raised that way. He did what he did in the name of WACO. 9/11 was done in the name of Allah. 2 different things uncomparable

      July 7, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  3. Belle

    No to Muslim holidays. I'll be for Muslim holidays being added to our calendars as official days off in the US as soon as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost is on the Muslim calendar as an official holiday. They can do like other religious denominations and faiths do – take the day off work or from school. I fail to see why Americans should adjust our way of life to accommodate immigrants. The whole reason for people immigrating to this country is supposedly to be able to live in freedom as only the US knows it. They have freedom to worship as they please. Just leave the heritage and history of our country alone. No other country in the world accommodates immigrants to the extent the US does. Why is this so?

    July 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bob

      So you'd only accept a school board adding Muslim holidays if the Muslim religion would add Christian holidays to it's calendar? What a bright person you are. And you're wrong, there are lots of other nations that treat immigrants far better then the US. Of course, you'd know this if you had a clue.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chuck

      That's just what you're not getting. WE live in a free society...they do not. They don't celebrate Muslim holidays "over there" either!!! But I vividly remember, growing up in NYC that we observed Jewish Holidays...no big deal. Anyone who would balk at a free day off from work is crazy.

      July 7, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  4. Michael Wilson

    It's a Christian Thing!

    When our freedoms are challenged, and our faith is denied,
    When life hangs in the balance, equality decried,
    Our solemn call to action, necessary and good,
    May be called into question, even misunderstood,

    Freedom from oppression, on which our country was built,
    Our forefathers lessons, a nations pride now distilled,
    Building society, where freedom can ring,
    I say with great piety, its a Christian thing!

    We always acknowledge, those with different views,
    Afford them the privilege, and the freedom to choose,
    But we built this great land, in this peculiar way,
    To give freedom to man, and what he has to say.

    But let us not forget, the reasons for these freedoms,
    To each serve our Lord best, and unite in these seasons,
    For it is love of our neighbors, of which we now sing,
    Our response to our Savior, it’s a Christian thing!

    America the beautiful, of which I am proud,
    Patriotic and dutiful, we answer out loud,
    Don’t tread on us, or our God given rights,
    Don’t give us causes, for which we will fight.

    Now as a nation, we will turn the other cheek,
    For we’re taught patience, and when to be meek,
    But don’t doubt for a moment, our resolve or the power of our sting,
    As we give you time to foment, it's simply a Christian thing.

    by My Gull Wheels On
    aka Michael Wilson

    July 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Huh?

      Creepy

      July 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  5. Doug

    Our America keep honor freedom and honor family and as honor one nation under God.. If our America become our weak how can honor other world than American?? I should keep my American Flag for freedom we can freedom with pray or talk Lord etc...

    July 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  6. RV

    I believe there are more Mormons than Muslims in the U.S. and we don't have a special day for them, or for Budhists.
    See how far you can get with Saudi Arabia (or any Muslim nation) celebrating a Christian holiday. We ought to send anyone who believes that Quoran, and its teaching to kill Jews and Christians back to where they came from. They like to chop the heads off of gays too. Mohammed was a universal killer.

    July 6, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • Bob

      You are a sorry excuse for an american citizen. You would scream to high heaven if anyone impinged on your rights but feel absolutely justified to remove others. What you suggest is promoting a single religion in a country. If that's what you wish, head over to Iran and see what religious theocracies have.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  7. Lynn

    Read the words of our founding fathers and then tell me where there is any basis for that.....NOT AT ALL. Our country has diverted so far from what we stood for, it is shameful. May God have mercy on America.

    July 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Perhaps you should read the words. If we were going by what the founding fathers wanted, there would be NO religious holidays in schools. That means if the 25th falls on a Tuesday, tough nookie. However, it's funny that after your group has broken the rules you want no one else to share the same benefit. Very american of you.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • McCluck

      Well, bob. We dont get christmas off as a christian holiday. It is off because of winter break. You can argue that the specific week was chosen because of christian influence but lynn is right. If you read the words, it says no holidays for the muslims too. Where are your arguments, or do you just scroll down the list looking for the easy ones to argue with?

      July 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  8. Paloma

    I am a Catholic from Lebanon. Unlike any other country in the world, in Lebanon we celebrate both Christian and Muslim holidays, and it works great. However, I don't know how would that work in a multi-cultural country like the United States.

    July 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  9. Brenda

    AMERICA is not a muslin , we are a Christain nation . I agree with Ben

    July 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Bob

      America is a secular nation which is comprised mostly of people who are christian. It is not a christian nation. It's a subtle but important difference. Iran is a muslim nation, thereby having it's laws reflecting Islamic dogma. America does not base it's laws on christian dogma.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • David

      The 1st Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

      America is not a Christian nation. Never has been. Radical Christians have no stronger claim to be here than moderate Muslims. Stop being stupid.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  10. Linda

    Hello...this is America. Built on Christian priciples. So, we don't have days off for our friends, Jewish. Why would we bend over backwards for those less likely to become friends? This US of A is not for barter. Stand up for American rights first!! Wake up people!! The wolf in sheeps clothing is doing "his" best to disrupt all that we know and care for. And "he" is doing so "from within". Hello!!!!! Wake Up!!!

    July 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bob

      America isn't founded on Christian values. It was founded on secularist views. Perhaps you should know your history.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • DDRM

      Linda, I agree, if anyone here has read the constitution, it says our rights and freedoms are endowed by our Creator. Now whom can that be? I don't think a one-size fits all solution for public schools works. Since we do have a population with diverse religions, I believe we should fund faith based schools or at least have some of our taxes go to the school where our children attend. In my case, my children attend Catholic schools. So, I don't mind paying for public schools but a portion should go to the school of my choice. Now that is taxation with representation!

      July 7, 2010 at 7:33 am |
    • Seena

      actually Jewish holidays are observed in NY. That's why this is an issue in NY. So many opinions on here....based on assumptions...i don't think it's the law to have an opinion...sometimes you can just say..i don't know enough to have an opinion on this topic.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  11. rollins

    NO WAY! this is a christian nation. id they want muslim holidays let them open muslim funded schools, and take off as many days as they want to!

    July 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • Bob

      America is not a christian nation. It's a nation that is populated mostly by christian. The foundation for success of america isn't based on christians, but rather on the rights and freedoms given to us.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • nancy

      Would the muslim world include christiam holidays in their countries???NO!!!!i dont think so.let America stick to what it is. I hate when immigrants or foreigners come here and try to change what America really is.If i travel to an islamic nation i will not go asking the government to recognize christmas, easter, or any other christian holiday. Because that would be an interruption to their islamic beliefs. the same should apply to people comming to the U.S.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Rodney

      So Nancy, "I hate when immigrants or foreigners come here and try to change what America really is", do you think the foreigners that came to new America asked the Indians any questions after declaring the land for their own? What would Jesus do?

      July 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
  12. Kim

    We have spent the last 15 years taking "religious holidays" out of the school calender ! My childeren ages 15 and 9 have never had Christmas Break–They have winter holiday and end of semester. They also have never had Good Friday or Easter Break. They have spring break that may or may not occur the week of Easter. I think the time to request school holidays based on religion has long past in this country. As parents you are free to keep your childeren home and observe whatever traditions you want-don't expect county/city/state employees to observe these as policy.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bob

      Just because they're no longer named for the religious holidays they represent doesn't mean they're gone. Move winter vacation to the second week of January and then you'll have a valid case. Or move spring break to second week of May.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Cathy

    No, This is really getting out of control. I am so tired of them cramming their views on Americans. If they don't like the way it is here they can just go back to where they came from.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm sick of Christians forcing their backdated, idiotic and baseless requirements on me. Perhaps you should go back to where YOU came from. I'm a Native American.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Kiowa

      Native Americans also came from other continents. The Europeans played by the same rules as the native Americans, by looking out for their own self interest and land that will accommodate their needs.
      The difference now is that we are being asked to surpress our own heritage. Why should we opress ourselves?

      July 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • Tiffany

      I come from Pittsburgh, PA. Grew up Roman Catholic and converted to Islam. My husband is from India and not Saudi. Where exactly are you going to send me? :-/

      July 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  14. Andy

    Why Muslim's holiday needs to be followed by kafirs and infidels ?

    There are many religions, beliefs, and cultures in this world. Shouldn't the goverment gives a public holiday for Shintoist, Hinduist, Jehovah's Witnessesist, Sikhisist, or Taoist ?

    If all holiday of all religions, beliefs, and cultures be celebrated, then there will be no business day in US.

    Wall Street should be shut down forever.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • Bob

      I agree entirely. Which is why we should do away with all religious holidays. Move them to off of the Christian holidays and then everyone is back to being equal. You want your child off for Christmas? Fine, take it off. You want your kid off for the last day of ramadan? Fine, take it off. I don't see what the big deal is.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • David

      Shutting down Wall Street would be great. Send the crooks packing and let the door hit their fat asses on the way out. That's what I say.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Mamabetty

      So y celebrate all the times that we do pick?

      July 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  15. Stephanie Mann

    The church is a sleeping giant! As a community crime and violence prevention consultant for 35 year, I see a critical need... churches need to work together. Read my article, "5 Myths: Keeping cities locked into crime." Our freedom is in danger and children are paying the highest price!
    http://www.safekidsnow.com

    July 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  16. RMB

    Insofar as I am concerned, all the holidays of religious nature (read: Easter, Christmas, Passover, etc.) should be removed from the "official" US Government calendar. That said, those persons who wish to celebrate those holidays should be allotted a certain number of holidays annually to celebrate as they feel appropriate. If you want to celebrate Kwanza, go ahead. If you want to celebrate Arbor day, feel free. Think your birthday or anniversay outweighs President's Day, you should have the right to take that day instead. Just allot a specific number of "personal" holidays for all federal employee (and private industry) work schedules. Religion is a very personal conviction - the government has no business selecting what is "appropriate" to celebrate.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • RMB

      ... As a continuation of the above thought and for clarification – I am Christian. America is "primariily" a Judeo / Christian nation and those hoidays traditionally celebrated by those groups will certainly represent the majority of the selected holidays, and so, government and private industry will certainly need to anticipate that absolutely nothing will be accomplished during the last few weeks of December and first week of January due to the celebration of those holidays.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:59 am |
    • V Saxena

      Brilliant idea! Speaking of which, I will be taking 4/20 off, haha.

      July 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Lyndon Boychuk

      I agree. I would like my birthday (April 20th) to become a stat holiday for me. Where do I sign up?

      July 7, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • John

      I agree 100%. This can be complicated when it comes to school holidays, though, as you will have days when large numbers of kids are absent, and therefore missing those lessons.

      July 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Stephen Holmes

    We should not allow holidays for ANY of our foreign compatriots, whether muslim, french, british, west indies etc.
    If they want those holidays, they need to move back to the countries from where they came.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • Bob

      I'm native north american. When will you be returnign to europe?

      July 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • John

      @ Bob- Awesome response! Apparently Stephen doesn't realize that some Americans are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. And that being non-Christian does not equate to being foreign. That might suggest that if I am Atheist, I am stateless (that means not being a citizen of any country, Steve).

      July 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  18. floyd

    NO NO NO NO NO WE HAVE ALL THE DAYS OFF THAT ARE NEEDED REMEMBER 9-11 MOSLEM CHEER THAT DAY.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • Bob

      What an intellgent response. You obviously are a real man of genius.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • steve88

      floyd, go get some muslim friends and atleast try to understand the culture ... You would then know that 99% of muslim in America detest what happened on 9/11.

      July 6, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
    • John

      Muslims died on 9-11 also... and maybe some Moslems, too... not sure about that tho.

      July 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  19. David Johnson

    I think we could give up a few Christian holidays. Easter comes to mind. Now that the kids are too old to hunt eggs, we mostly just sleep in. Give the Muslims this holiday. I don't think there really is an Easter bunny anyways.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Susie

      David- how sad! Easter is a major Christian holiday. It has nothing to do with the Pagan Easter bunny. Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ Resurrection. NO WAY will we give up this holiday. Your name David comes from the bible. King David.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Dave

      Easter is not about the easter bunny. It is about our Lord & Savior giving up His life and dieing on the cross for our sins. So we can join Him in His heavnly home.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Lynn

      I will pray for you David Johnson....you obviously have no clue what Easter is all albout.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bob

      How dare you David. Easter is the celebration of the zombie Jesus rising from the grave. Once he became undead, he spread his zombie curse and all the holy men in graves rose again and walked around the holy land and were seen by many. Matthew 27:52. You obviously are only looking at the holiday through rose coloured glasses. Real christians believe in the undead.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Frank

      Couldn't agree with you more. Gotta give up on national holidays involving beings as real as leprechauns.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Lynn,

      If you prayed for me, then prayer obviously doesn't work. I still don't believe in the Easter Bunny. My kids did until they were like 5. I got tired of hiding eggs and stuffed animals. My youngest did cry for a little while, but I just didn't want her to believe in something that wasn't so. My wife said,"she could feel the bunny in her heart". But still, she is just a woman and as the lord says, she should be silent. Well, thank you for the prayer... I guess. God Bless.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Mamabetty

      David, I agree. Why should schools be closed for 2 full weeks at Christmas time? One week seems to be enough. One whole week for "Spring" break or "Easter" is not necessary. As a school teacher for 32 yrs, I find many students forget their info after a 2 wk beak ans certainly over the summer. 4 days a week for the whole yr would be good also. Save bus/gas/electricity payments every week – keep going. Have 1 wk off at Christmas, Easter, summer, etc.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Mamabetty

      Hey, Bob.... did y'all have an illegal alien problem? LOL Just all of us, huh?

      July 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • WinterClover

      There is no way that Muslims should have holidays before any other religions, that is ludacris. I do not totally agree with only Christian holidays, I think there should be a summer play holiday, or perhaps a spring play day. Jewish kids currently are not being accomidated for their particular holidays. No way Muslims. Stop trying to get more rights and privlages than the rest of us.

      July 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • Paul

      The Jews can celebrate any holidays they want in Israel. The Muslims can do the same in Saudi Arabia. The US was founded on Christian principles, so we celebrate Christian Holidays. Too bad for the rest.... go to another country if you don't like the traditions this country has....

      July 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jason

      Hello David, I'm what you would call a "recovering" Catholic. If you are going to advocate the elimination of a christian holiday from the school calendar, start with Christmas, not Easter. Christmas is, essentially, just some dude's birthday (I'm not even going to get into the fact that he was actually born in the springtime). We all have birthdays. Easter, on the other hand is when the bible says Jesus rose from the dead (not everyone has a rose-from-the-dead day. You can see why easter is the most important holiday for most christians. Also, to everyone that has been posting with the word "Moslem", think about this, Islam is to Al Queda what Christianity is to the Klu Klux Klan. Most Muslims are peaceful, law abiding citizens who abhor terrorism, just as most christians are peaceful, law abiding citizens who abhor lynchings. Get it?

      July 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • Leezia

      Bravo, David

      July 6, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • a slozomby

      correct me if im wrong but easter is on a sunday. schools are closed on sunday. why does anyone need monday off

      July 7, 2010 at 4:54 am |
    • DDRM

      Although the founding fathers did not endorse one particular religion, they were Christians and Easter is the holiest Christian holiday of the year – it's not about the easter eggs.

      July 7, 2010 at 7:29 am |
    • PaulR

      I saw what you did there David! ROFL you got all the religious types all in a frenzy...thank you for the belly laugh!

      July 7, 2010 at 7:42 am |
    • Dan Halen

      David, you will burn in Hell. The Easter Bunny is a sacred symbol of love for candy and a reason to miss a week of school.

      Oh, and non-sarcastically to everyone else, Easter is most definitely NOT a Christian Holiday. It is Christian myth superimposed on Pagan myth, just like Christmas, and Halloween, which, thank God (lol) some Christians are still afraid of and haven't invented a new story for it. The early Christians couldn't stop the pagans from feasting and cavorting in celebration of their heathen gods, so they slapped Jesus on it and said "Have a blast!"

      Seriously tho, David. Chocolate eggs. Peeps.

      July 7, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  20. NEILO123

    NO WAY -ALTHOUGH GOD KNOWS THE U.S. NEEDS MORE HOLIDAYS MATCHING THE REST OF THE CIVILIZED WORLD BUT NO WAY -NOT UNTIL WE SEE AT LEAST ONE SINGLE DEMONSTRATION BY MOSLEMS AGAINST MOSLEM EXTREMISTS & EXTREMISM –NO WAY–NO MOSLEM HOLIDAYS FOR ME.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • Alex

      How you were able to misspell a word THREE times when it's written correctly on this page about a dozen boggles the mind. I'll consider the validity of your argument when you take the time to say something coherent.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Tiffany

      @Neilo, do you really think there aren't Muslims in the US Army, US Marines, etc? Ignorance can be bliss but in your case, stupidity.

      In response to the question: YES! Let the Muslims have Eid off. It doesn't have to be the full amout of days for both Eids but it is frustrating year after year when my children and my husband have to miss or be late to work and school to attend prayer only to rush back to the daily grind. Christians and Jews get to "take a break" on some of their holidays, it would be really nice if for a change if we could, too.

      July 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
    • firststep

      We can allow this when we can open a church in saudi arabia or dubai or iran or malasia. when muslim women if wishes not wear purdha can do the same in UAE. when muslims raise voice against terrorism or else it will be beginging of death of any other culture. see pakisthan,afghan malasia, igypt, turkey. if we can learn a lesson from what happens in these countires we will end up in big trouble. these are just infant steps of terrorist thought process

      July 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • John

      I'm not sure what a moslem holiday is, but i agree... we shouldn't recognize them. We should, however, recognize Muslim holidays, perhaps most notably Eid el FItr (the end of Ramadan).

      July 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • Nivein

      I agree with you. this country is based on Christian religion, and I don't think they should allow any muslim holiday to be acknowledged, Does Saudis allow Christian holiday in Saudi Arabia??????????? I don't think so.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Rob

      I have heard many people state that Muslim Holidays should not be a reason to close schools based on the fact the America is a Christian Nation. Now before I add my two pennies I want you all to know that I am a Christian Evangelist. After saying that, it is my belief that America was founded by people who were trying to get away from religious persecution and establish a country where people could worship their god freely. If you are a Christian then you understand that Jesus made a distinction that church and state should be separate. (Mark 12:17) So because of this I feel that a public school, in all reality, should not observe any holiday regarding any religion, however, because it does, it is only fair and balanced to observe, or at least allow students to take time off from their schooling to observe their holy day. (and if you study it out, most "christian holidays" have there roots from paganism anyway)
      The founding fathers understood religious persecution which is why we have the constitution allowing freedom of religion, lets not bring too America what they strove to leave where they came from.

      July 15, 2010 at 2:38 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.