Schools keep Halloween, Christmas, adds Ramadan Muslim mother gets Ramadan approved in Oak Lawn, Ill. schools as compromise to keep Christmas and Halloween
(Christian Action Network) OAK LAWN, Ill. ― Oak Lawn school district board members voted recently for a compromise to end a controversy over how to please everybody’s holiday traditions without offending some.
The District 122 schools are celebrating Halloween today, they’ll also have a visit from Santa during Christmas time as usual, but the schools are to observe Islamic Ramadan as well.
Ramadan, the fasting month of the Islamic calendar, ended October 13 for this year; it is now part of the schedule for school observances September 1-30, 2008.
Remarks at the school board hearing were described as “heated” as parents of Muslim and Christian corners of the debate sounded off.
The school district began the school year with a ‘tone-down’ policy of dropping all observances after Elizabeth Zahdan, a Muslim mother, complained, wanting her children separated for lunch break prayers as Ramadan began in early September.
Now, “everything is staying the same, Christmas is still Christmas and Halloween is still Halloween,” school board member Dave Lis said.
To 10-year-old Samanth Ramirez, that was good news, the fifth-grader looks forward to the annual visit by ‘Santa’ at her Columbus Manor School. “We should be able to celebrate our thing, and they should be able to celebrate theirs, too,” she said.
The compromise was not agreeable to all. “I don’t ever remember one of us asking for our child to be separated from classmates during Ash Wednesday when they were fasting, or on every Friday of Lent when our children are not allowed to eat meat,” parent Cathy Hughes said.
“If Muslims want the school holidays, menus and school traditions to become tailored to their needs or beliefs, then they should go to private school next to their mosque,” Brian Shapiro said.
Zahdan said the compromise was exactly what she was looking for.
“Did I say ban holidays? I did not,” Zahdan said. “I said please help us stop the cycle of hatred. I said let’s celebrate all of the holidays.”
The district has a 30 percent Arab-American population, many of whom practice Islam.
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