Opinion

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to close schools for Muslim holidays

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,New York City,Bill de Blasio,Charles Hoskinson,Holidays,Islam

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to accommodate the 10 percent of students in the city's public classrooms who are Muslim by closing schools for their religious holidays.

The city's public schools already close for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and other breaks are timed to allow for observance of Christmas, Passover and Easter.

“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it's something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” de Blasio told WNYC on Tuesday.

That's an understatement.

What Jewish and Christian holidays have in common is they can be scheduled in advance. The Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha cannot accurately be scheduled according to the Gregorian calendar used in the United States, because their timing depends on lunar observation.

And Muslims around the world do not agree on how those dates are calculated -- or even if they can be calculated in advance.

For example, the generally accepted date for Eid al-Fitr in 2014 is July 28, but it could also be July 29, and the actual date won't be known until the new moon is sighted.

Think of it like a snow day, when people wake up and find schools are closed because officials saw ice on the roads, except in this case the schools are closed because someone in Saudi Arabia saw the first crescent of the new moon.

Yeah, that'll work real well.

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