This past Friday, the proposal to honor Muslim holy days Eid al-Adha, which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, and Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and breaks the fast coupled with it, as federal holidays was denied by President Barack Obama.
This denial was in response to the nearly viral online petition on the WeThePeople.com site that acquired over 100,000 e-signatures over a 30-day period. The reasoning behind the decision is simple according to The White House. Congress has only designated 10 federal holidays per year; New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The White House officially stated that,
“Proposals for new permanent federal holidays are typically in the province of Congress”.
The petition gave a logical explanation to their request for the days off stating,
“There is a large population of Muslim people in the US, and the two holidays that are celebrated are not recognized in calendars to mark these special days…Students are missing out on school, people taking time from work, this is all because these holidays are unknown”.
Ironically, the response to the petition came on the same day as President Obama signing a decree that all federal employees are to be given half of the day off on December 24th, Christmas Eve. It has also come shortly after President Obama has openly denounced discrimination against Muslim Americans in response to the attacks in Paris, London and San Bernadino, California.
The White House added that states, cities, and school districts set their own holidays and that New York City Public Schools recognized Eid as a holiday for the first time this year. They also stated that federal law requires employers to honor religious obligation that interfere with work.