Council seeks to put Muslim holidays on city calendar

Rikard Larma

Employing the term “marginalized” to describe how he and his family have felt over the years when faced with aversion to their Muslim faith, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. introduced a bill Thursday that aims to cultivate a culture of inclusivity.

Jones offered up a resolution calling on the City of Philadelphia and the school district to recognize Eid al-Fitr, also known as the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, in the same manner as other legally recognized holidays in Philadelphia.

Council suspended its normal rules of order and passed the resolution unanimously.

“We understand there’s a separation of church and state, but the simple reality is that we already recognize religious holidays both in the school district and in the city of Philadelphia,” said City Council President Darrell Clarke.

“We just wanted to send a signal that there is support —we think that it’s time we reflect this population in the city of Philadelphia in a meaningful way, and this is the start of that process.”

According to Jones, there are 200,000 Muslims in and around the City of Philadelphia, and Muslim children from kindergarten through grade 12 represent approximately 20 percent of the student body.

“None of our children, of any race, creed, color or religion, should ever feel marginalized again, and I will do everything legal in my power as a councilperson to make sure they never, ever feelthat feeling,” Jones said.

Clarke went on to say Thursday’s passage of the resolution was only the start of the conversation, and that the city would have to work out the kinks regarding whether or not these days would be paid holidays or not for city employees. Eid al-Fitr falls on July 7 and Eid al-Adha falls on Sept. 12.

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