Two petitions seem to have come up simultaneously on the White House official website, calling for recognizing Muslim holidays throughout the United States of America.
The petitions - Support the movement of having Muslim holidays recognized in the school year, throughout the United States of America and
Recognize Muslim holidays throughout the school year - were both submitted on 16 January. However, as required by the White House petition protocol, the petitions will have to get to 100,000 signatures by 15 February, and only after that the White House may even consider answering the petition.
Islam has relatively few holidays, compared to most other religions. Traditionally, Muslims celebrate just two major festivals - EId Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Then there is a month of daytime fasting (Ramadan), and a day of voluntary fasting ('Ashura, also an important Shiite festival). Since the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the holidays fall on a different date each year.
This would not be the first time the Muslim community has made this effort. Incidentally, the first of the petitions was started by three middle-school students from Virginia. Their petition, posted in December, similarly asked for recognition of Muslim religious holidays, however, it failed to gain enough signatures.
"With the growing population of Muslims in the United States of America (including first, second, third, and fourth generation) we believe it is high time that Muslim holidays are recognized by schools throughout this nation. Unfortunately many Muslim families are forced to choose between their children's education and their religious obligations. Muslim school children and staff deserve the same benefits afforded to the followers of other faiths. We call on President Obama to support this petition and advance the inclusiveness of our great nation," the petition states.
Of late the American public schools have been making efforts to accommodate students of various faiths. However, at present most schools only recognize Christian and Jewish holidays on its calendar, by closing schools on those days.
In the 2011 census, it was found that the number of Muslims in America has swelled from 1.5 million to 2.6 million. The American society, which since the 9/11 has increasingly been hostile to the Muslim community around them, have been fighting covert battles through indirect oppositions.
Animosity toward Muslims has often taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. The most recent incident remains the national uproar over plans for a community center that became known as the "Ground Zero mosque" in Lower Manhattan.