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. John

    I am a Christian. I am also a retired Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer. If you look at the basis for the laws of this country that were laid down by our Fore-Fathers you would see that they are based on the writings and teachings from multiple cultures and religions. Our Fore-Fathers in writing the laws for our country looked at the Koran, the Bible, The Codes of Hammurabi, and English Common Law to name a few. Our Fore-Fathers were Christians, but they resisted the urge to impose their beliefs on this country. Should we allow a school district to recognize and grant students holidays specifically for their religion? No, we should not as this would violate the principles our Fore-Fathers set forth in our Constitution. The school holidays we currently have, were originally setup to accommodate the dominate beliefs in this country at the time. Maybe it is time to modify these breaks to allow families to take the time off when they wish to versus at specified times. But to specifically make a holiday for a specific religion is wrong and should not be allowed.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  2. TammyB

    I agree with the last few posts and as I said in an earlier post, I believe people/students should be able to take their religious days off without repercussion, and for the most part, I do believe that would be the case. Making them a holiday where the whole school system shut down, however, not so good. We have too many religions and more here in the USA to do that.

    July 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  3. Big Bob

    Ah, but SId!

    Certainly Europe had it's dark side. But they gave as much as they took. Colonialism has been derided as it should be.
    But it gave birth to the modern society we all enjoy.


    Do you think India today would have a viable space program if it hadn' been a British Colony?
    I have scores more if you'd like to debate...

    July 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  4. ECD

    im saying that no one should be special! christians or not america should not have to kneal to the "Most popular religion"

    July 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  5. DAG

    No not let the Muslims try to impose Sharia Law here! They can go back to were they came from if they don't like it.

    July 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  6. ECD

    But as long as you had those days and used it for a vacation or somthing of that sort that is your holiday and shouldnt be judged

    July 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  7. SKB

    Our forefathers had the good sense to separate Church and State. Let's just stick with that. Celebrate Spring, or something that we all agree on. Private schools can take holidays up themselves. Public schools should just separate from religion. Maybe they could have natural splits in semesters around significant days or some workaround. (I thought Martin Luther King Day was a holiday and kept my son home. Then found out that it wasn't. Nobody made a big deal out it.) I suppose you could have a voucher for x number of holidays and just take them off when you want to, but it might burden the system. (An amazing amount of people would probably take those days off in the Spring if given an actual choice...just guessing.)

    July 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
    • SKB

      It's time to stop pigeon-holing people into categories of religious and political views. There are a few that have decided to make that their whole life, but most of us have more diverse interests than that. We are not our jobs, we are not our religion, we are not our political views, we are not our bank account, we are not our socioeconomic class. Stop hiding behind those. Strip those layers away. (Join the human race.)

      July 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • SKB

      I agree with common sense. If you want to take the day off, go ahead. Nobody would stop you. Tell your teachers in advance so they know what you missed and you can catch up quick.

      July 6, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • SKB

      I don't think those days off were ever intended to force beliefs on anyone. It was just a matter of being practical because those were the days that most people took off. Agree that it didn't work out very well for people with different holidays.

      July 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  8. ECD

    I agree i don't think we should accomidate anyone else for any reason. I wonder if obama blogs? If so he needs see this hes screwing up everything else

    July 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  9. steve88

    The United State of America is no way founded on the beliefs of Christianity. Furthermore, I would think that the separation of church and state would apply to prohibit the endorsement of any and all religions. Therefor we should not endorse religious based holidays from any religion.

    Thomas Jefferson – "Christianity neither is nor ever was a part of the common law."

    "The 1796 treaty with Tripoli states that the United States is "in no sense founded on the Christian religion". This treaty written under the presidency of George Washington; signed under the presidency of John Adams."

    July 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Rob


      July 15, 2010 at 2:39 am |
  10. ECD

    The strength of America may be it's diversity but only because of different veiws. I do not agree with religious holidays in the school system. I just graduated and i always felt as though i was being forced to be happy for or to celebrate someone elses beliefs that i may not agree with. I agree with Bob on the terms that America was not founded as christian and it shouldn't be that just because there are more christians in America that we only celebrate their holidays. its delusional to believe that everyone will agree with this. Even christian parents will have problems with it, no matter how much there "supposed" to love others

    July 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  11. Kurt

    To the best of my knowledge, there are only two major "holidays" or festival/feast (called Eid) days in Sunni Islam. They are Eid ul-Fitr ("the Festival of Breaking Fast") which officially concludes Ramadan and Eid al-Adha ("Festival of the Sacrifice"), commemorating Ibrahim's (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son, which comes at the end of the Hajj or annual pilgrimage to Mecca Shia Muslims, who control Iran, have many more festival/martyrs days. Because the Muslim calendar is lunar, not solar, based, Eid holidays in Islam move forward through the Julian/Gregorian calendar each year by 10-14 days. Unlike a holiday such as Christmas, which is permanently fixed on December 25th and Easter, which always occurs on Sunday, Jewish holy days such as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana as well as the Islamic Eid feast days can and do occur on any day of the week. Attending religious services for two more days or even part of two days isn't going to destroy the American educational system or seriously deprive a student of their education. When I both attended and taught in public schools, Jewish students were always excused for both holy days with no second thought being given to the matter. There is nothing wrong with extending the same "optional days" to students who are Muslim...or any other faith...as well. Unlike Christmas which is always going to be on December 25th (set there by Christian Roman Emperors, replacing the huge pagan Roman feast of the Saturnalia, which occurred on the same date) and the holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, which occur in mid to late September yearly, both Eid celebrations will continue to rotate forward through the calendar, with one or the other Eid eventually occurring during a summer break. What's the harm in recognising "optional" religious holidays for those students or parents who ask for them? The strength of America is its people and the strength of America is its diversity.

    July 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  12. TammyB

    I agree that we have spent the last 20 years doing away with making mention of any kind of religious holidays, except there are a lot of us still "old school" that say "Christmas Break", or "Easter Break". However, in the private sector, the working class people alot of times do work on "Christmas", and "Easter". Work retail sometime....most places are open 24/7. I think that if there is a religious event specific to your belief, you should be allowed to take that time off without repercussion, as many employers do now. Those are the nice employers. The small employers don't have time to give a few more days off to people sanctioned by the government. The government lets their employees take time off for those sanctioned holidays. Perhaps the government should scrap those days named for religious holidays, and have days off for American events, or for heros of America (such as President's Day, of course Thanksgiving, and MLK and so on). Schools could do this all across the country....just give days off for religious holidays based upon one's religion. I think that's fair. Plus there could still be a winter break at some point, and a spring break at some point, not necessarily around Christmas or Easter (just in case you think I was going for that!).

    July 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  13. svet

    No way, period. No any religious holidays, except those which coincide with school breaks, like in winter, spring, or summer.
    Official religious holidays are a blatant violation of separation of church and state.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  14. Jake

    This is just the begining of what they want. As some other posters said on here...give them their holidays when they allow Christian holidays in their own countries. They cheer every year at 9-11

    July 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Secular

    How about eliminating time off for specific religious holidays and just giving everyone some additional personal/family days to use as they wish?

    It's fair to everyone, although I'm sure it would somehow be considered a "war on Christians" like everything else in this country is.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  16. Jake

    Tell them to ask Obama, his forst priority is to appease the muslims. I think the only thing we should give them is a free ride back to their country and the ones that are citizens turned muslim should be tried for treason.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  17. common sense

    Christianity can only be described as peaceful if you willfully ignore several passages in the bible. It also requires a willful ignorance of history as well. Instead of adding additional holidays for muslim mythology, we should be removing christian mythology inspired holidays. If you want to celebrate a holiday, take the day off... pretty simple.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  18. Bernie Nelson

    Not in a million years. Or at least until the Muslim population show they are american and not hell bent on killing all of us.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  19. Mark Twain

    "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

    July 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  20. Big Bob

    Oh! and Bob?

    I just love how folks who think as you do, always bring up the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh renounced his Christianity in favor of Science long before his wicked act. AND, people did not celebrate in "Christian" cities around the world as Muslim cities rejoiced on 9/11.

    And you're certainly right about other countries treating the immigrant populations much better than the US. All of Europe is going broke allowing unrestrained immigration. The catch, is that they are invited NOT to work and collect social benefits.
    Isn't that swell? How nice of them! Countries with historically low crime rates are now helpless to control these wonderful cultural inrichers! And, if the indigineous people (Natives) dare to complain, they're cited with "Hate Crimes". Wouldn't you just love to pay 70% taxes on your hard-earned Euros for that kind of justice? They follow the laws from their homelands as Europe's culture of art, music and science are trodden underfoot by the millions of ungrateful new comers. And YOU know who you are!

    July 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • sid

      Europe robbed and looted rest of the world for long time and for rubbing christianity on world. It must hurt them to know that they cannot do much to stop migration/immigration in a more or less so called civilized society and inter-dependant world as is Today. Gone are the days when they used to conquer, kill, loot others wealth.

      July 6, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
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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.