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Students petition Georgia school district for Muslim holiday

April 9, 2022 GMT

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Muslim students want Georgia’s largest school district to mark the holiday Eid al-Fitr with a day off on next year’s school calendar.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the request by students at Gwinnett County Public Schools could be the first of its kind in Georgia.

Noor Ali, a freshman at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, has spoken to the Gwinnett school board and started an online petition for the holiday that has more than 8,000 signatures, the newspaper reported Friday.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month during which observers fast. It falls on May 2 this year.

Ali said she will have to choose between going to school or celebrating with family and friends. Students may take the day off as an excused absence, but they will go to school if they have an exam that day, Ali said.

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“I owe it to my friends, my little cousins, my school and the coming generation of Muslims all over the nation to at least try,” she said about her effort to make Eid al-Fitr a school holiday.

District staff are expected to finalize the calendar for the 2023-24 school year later this year.

“Any consideration of adding additional holidays to the calendar must be balanced with the knowledge that this action would result in days being added to the school calendar,” Superintendent Calvin Watts told the newspaper in an email.

Gwinnett school board chair Tarece Johnson said she’s supportive of efforts to promote equity in the district calendar.

“To truly achieve equity, we must meet the needs of our diverse population and also respect their major holidays,” she said.