Lifestyle & Belief

Cambridge schools give day off for Muslim holiday


Egyptian Muslim women gather to pray under a statue of the late Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum as they celebrate Eid al-Adha, on the main street the Nile Delta city of Mansura some 120 north of Cairo. Nov. 6, 2011


Khaled Desouki

BOSTON -- Students in the Cambridge public school system will have Tuesday off for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

It is believed to be first time a school district in Massachusetts has given students a day off for a Muslim holiday, Fox News reported.

It states that a school committee made the decision last year as a result of the district having a large number of Muslim students and wanting to make it easier for those students to celebrate their holiday.

More from GlobalPost: Muslims mark Eid holiday in shadow of violence

"We’re ecstatic about this," Atif Harden, interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, told the Boston Globe.

"This is the first year that it’s going to occur. This sort of recognition of our existence and the population we have, we feel very good about."

A member of the school committee, Marc McGovern, told the Associated Press that he received some criticism and threats when the committee approved of giving the day off.

The Globe reported that Cambridge city schools will close for either Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha each year depending on which holiday falls within the school calendar.

Eid al-Adha is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice.

Photos: Hajj 2011, Muslims Pilgrimage to Mecca

Public schools across the United States give days off for Christian holidays such as Christmas, occasionally for Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and always for national public holidays like Thanksgiving. Giving off for a Muslim holiday happens but is rare.

It is up to individual school districts to make decisions over how to accommodate for the religious needs of the students in their districts.

DISCUSSION: Should public schools give off for religious holidays? How should school districts decide which holidays to close school for?