How many Muslims does it take to close New York City Public Schools? The answer is 69,985 – roughly 21/2500 of the total population of the Big Apple – going by the most recent demographic breakdown (2000 Census).
The scant size of the Muslim community hasn’t deterred the city’s new absurdly liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio, from pushing to close city schools for two Muslim holidays and the Lunar New Year. The Daily News reports (h/t Weasel Zippers) that hizzoner appeared on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, where he announced his plan to publicly observe the Muslim holy days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as well as the Islamic New Year, with school closures. Said the mayor:
It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame.
Reactions were not solicited from the 99% of students who aren’t Muslim, though it is doubtful many of them will complain about extra days off from school. Their parents – especially those in families where both work and need to make special arrangement for school closures – are likely a different story.
Ditto for de Blasio’s predecessor, the extreme (but not nearly as extreme in hindsight) Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who opposed the change, saying kids should not miss more school.
Defenders of the move will point to the longstanding tradition of New York Public Schools closing for the Jewish “high holidays” of New Year and Yom Kippur, but Jews, who number around 1.1 million, make up 13% of the city’s population.
In the meantime, the city’s Hindu population, though not as “heavily” represented as Muslims, feels slighted that de Blasio hasn’t yet taken a firm position on whether schools should close for Diwali, the festival of lights. Dr. Shashi Shah of the Association of Indians in America is quoted as saying:
We are disappointed. We’ve been trying for a long time… It’s very important for the community.
Observers of Festivus have not weighed in.