Iowa City Adds Muslim Holidays to School Calendar

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Muslim students in Iowa will finally have a chance to celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr normally after the city school board agreed to recognize the Islamic holiday on the school calendar.

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The decision, which will be applied starting from the next school year 2022, came after student Reem Kirja spent three years advocating for it, The Gazette reported.

Writing a letter to the superintendent, Reem, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Northwest Junior High, started a petition on change.org to raise awareness and support for Muslim students.

📚 Read Also: American City Adds `Eid Al-Fitr to Calendar

“Imagine waking up Christmas morning, running downstairs, opening presents, and then grabbing your backpack and heading to school,” Reem wrote in the petition which received more than 5000 signatories.

“That would never happen, but for many Muslim students in the ICCSD, it’s what is asked of them each year Eid falls during school,” she added.

Superintendent Matt Degner said future calendars will always include Eid as a no-school day.

“It’s not incorporating every single holiday, but I think it’s important to do this work as our populations continue to change,” school board member Ruthina Malone said.

“I don’t think the work will ever change or stop.”

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Educating on Islam

Winning the fight for holiday, Reem hopes now that students have `Eid off from school, they might question what it is and have the chance to educate themselves on Islam.

“It’s surprising how many people don’t know about `Eid even though Islam is the second-largest religious group in the world,” Reem said.

The Islamic Hijri Calendar is a lunar one, thus the observance of `Eid Al-Fitr revolves throughout the seasons.

A growing number of American school districts have begun to recognize the Muslim holidays.

Earlier this year, Lewiston Maine added the Islamic holidays to the public schools calendar, allowing Muslim students to celebrate their holiday normally.  

In April 2019, the Detroit school district announced it would be recognizing the Muslim holiday of `Eid Al-Fitr during its adoption of the 2019-20 school year calendar.

The Baltimore County Board of Education approved unanimously in November, 2019, to close public schools for students on `Eid holidays when they land on a school day.

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