Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mecca to Dearborn: 'Take a Day Off'

The Dearborn Public School system has just made a last-minute announcement that, rather than Winter Break starting on Thursday, December 20th, it is being moved back a day to Wednesday, the 19th. The change is going to mess up the schedules of students and working parents, and the district has now had to rush negotiations with the “teachers union and the non-instructional union, which includes the bus drivers, custodians, food service, paraprofessionals and secretaries” about adjusting mandated and negotiated days off.

Here is what happened, as reported in the Dearborn Press and Guide. (“Late Eid scheduling throws district a curve ball”).

School officials met with union leaders last week to change the start of winter break to accommodate the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha.

Superintendent John Artis told the Board of Education at its Monday meeting the district anticipated the holiday would be celebrated Thursday.

Then school officials were notified that the High Judiciary Council in Saudi Arabia set the date for Wednesday.

“It wasn't until Monday [December 10] that Saudi Arabia announced it would be the 19th,” said David Mustonen, the district's communications director. “We tried to anticipate it and set the day, putting some buffer time in there.”

Another difficulty setting the date is that Sunni and Shia Muslims celebrate the first day of the holiday on different days.

“We received a fax from the Islamic Center of America that all the imams got together and said the 20th is when Eid would be celebrated,” Mustonen said.

DPS Trustee James Schoolmaster said,

“Leaving the calendar as is would result in high absentee rates among students and staff, which would translate into loss of state aid for the day, [DPS Superintendent John] Artis told the board.”

Eid al-Adha celebrates Ibraham’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Eid also marks the conclusion of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Because the date of Eid is determined on a lunar calendar, its date is always different on the Gregorian solar calendar used by our public schools. The date may also vary from country to country as the moon is visible from those places or not.

Reports do not indicate why it is that Saudis had so much trouble figuring out the predictable lunar cycles before the last minute.

Unhappy parents and critics of this level of accommodation are going to have it pointed out to them that the school schedule already includes “Christian holidays,” so Muslim holidays should be entitled to the same consideration.

In Dearborn, they already do receive the same consideration, and then some extra consideration, too, as this episode shows. Namely, the need for the Dearborn Public School system, all its teachers, 18,000 students and their parents, and all DPS staff, to adjust their calendar on barely a week’s notice to facilitate the religious needs of the district’s Sunni Muslim population, which in turn has to wait for date rulings concerning Eid from the High Judiciary Council in Saudi Arabia.

Dearborn's nonMuslims don't begrudge anyone time off to keep religious holidays. But it doesn't look so good when there's an appearance that taxpayer-funded schools have to stand up, sit down, and turn around at the say-so of, literally, foreign princes. Remember all the flak JFK from fundamentalists worried he was going to get his orders from the Pope? This is sort of like that, except Rome never interfered with JFK, and even if it had, the Pope was never going to call up the White House on December 21st to announce a change in the date of Christmas.

This is one of those situations where, if Dearborn's Sunni leaders are smart, they'll graciously acknowledge that it was their own Saudi clerics who caused all this inconvenience, and show some remorse for the trouble its caused their neighbors, and even show some gratitude that the school system so readily cooperated. But I'm afraid that, as usual, Dearborn's Muslims will just take the DPS's above-and-beyond accomodation as nothing more than what Muslims are due by divine right.

Which is exactly what drives their nonMuslim neighbors crazy.


Anonymous said...

"Then school officials were notified that the High Judiciary Council in Saudi Arabia set the date for Wednesday."

“It wasn't until Monday [December 10] that Saudi Arabia announced it would be the 19th,”

I can only respond with W.T.F ?!!

Anonymous said...

I respond with a question about the Constitution of the U.S. Why would one religion be given consideration over any other? The tax dollars that fund the DPS are in question.

If the master of DPS is Saudi Arabia let them pay for the school as they do so many others in the U.S.
Let's all unite to save Michigan from the tax burden of funding the Islamic religion.

Anonymous said...

With all my respect to bombshelters-r-us, let us all unite to save the whole U.S and the world from helping Islam.

Saudi Arabia has one of the largest deserts in the world. Why they do not build schools for them there? Already they have invested in the desert and built empty castles as a (stupid) gesture of being a modern country.

They could get their drinking water from Iran.