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Philadelphia Adds Muslim Holidays to Public School Calendar

Following New York City’s lead, Philadelphia will add two Muslim holy days to its school calendar, the city announced this week.

The move will affect Philadelphia’s 134,538 public school children who will be given the day off for Eid al-Fitr, celebrated following the month-long observance of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which marks the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham in Judaism and Christianity) to sacrifice his son for God.

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Since the 2016-2017 calendar has already been drafted, students and staff who wish to take off to celebrate the two holidays will be given an excused absence, the mayor’s office said. For subsequent years, the district will send the holiday dates to the School Reform Commission, which oversees Philadelphia’s public schools, for a vote to include them in the general school calendar as days off, according to the mayor’s office.

The dates vary each year since the holidays follow a Lunar calendar. For 2016-2017, Eid al-Adha will fall in September and Eid al-Fitr in late June of next year.

Midnight Ramadan Brunch 2:37

“I’m grateful to the stakeholders and leaders that stand with me today to advance inclusion in the many ways that residents practice their faith and religion,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement Tuesday.

The news comes a little more than a year after New York City added Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to its own public school calendar.

In January, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to recognize Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as school holidays. The city is also exploring how to make the two holy days city holidays, Ajeenah Amir, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, told NBC News.

“In this election cycle of unprecedented anti-Muslim bigotry, Mayor Kenney and the City of Philadelphia are to be commended for not being intimidated by the fear-mongering voices of hate and division,” Jacob Bender, executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.

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