That’s what members of the Montgomery County Board of Education did by a vote of 7-1 when they decided to remove all references to all religious holidays from the school calendar instead of acknowledge two Islamic holiday references on their calendar.
It seems the school system of that county in Maryland allows its schools to be closed on the religious holidays of Jews and Christians because observant students of those faiths as well as faculty members stay home during their holidays and the high absenteeism in schools makes it pointless to have class. Sounds like the school board is giving in to mob rule by closing schools because students aren’t present thereby making it possible for students and their parents to dictate when schools open or close….of course that’s not the case because when Muslims tried to keep their children home from school during the Islamic holidays after the month of fasting or in celebration of Hajj classes continued as usual. Officials say the number of absent students/staff didn’t meet the threshold….not enough in the “mob” stayed home.
The Muslims sensing an inequality in the way they are treated made repeated demands on the Board to at least acknowledge their holidays on the school calendar….simply typing on the calendar “eid al-fitr” or “eid al-adha” would most likely have been enough to ameliorate their concerns……….for now but Montgomery’s school board went whole hog and got rid of any reference to ANY religion on their calendar while will no doubt still continuing to close on days where people other than Muslims celebrate their holidays.
There’s so much wrong with this story that I don’t know where to begin, but I want to take time to celebrate the Montgomery School Board’s one member of clarity, Michael Durso who voted against that insane proposal to not acknowledge Islamic holidays and instead remove all references to ANY religion. His was the only voice of reason among a board of “education” when he noted that Montgomery brags about its diversity and its embrace of different cultures but takes actions that come off as insensitive to Muslim families.
This is not the time of year for this type of story. It won’t be long before the conservative pundits all over will label Muslims as the ‘grinch who stole Christmas’…..their war on Christmas stories are a perennial stable, and that will only increase the already heightened xenophobic racist reaction to Muslims. Why the School board didn’t make such a simple addition to their calendar is an indication of their close and narrow minded approach to the citizens of that county. I hope they, with the exception of Mr. Durso are all removed when their time comes up for reelection. Are you listening citizens of Montgomery county?
The following editorial is not unique to Saudi Arabia, rather it’s an Arab Gulf mentality that is steeped in tribalism and nationalism and from the looks of the comments generates intense feelings among many of the people who live there. I remarked after reading it, what would the king of Abyssinia or the people of Medina say to the nascent Islamic community that came to them seeking shelter from the oppression of the Quraish; would there even be an Islamic community if they were not afforded freedom from oppression that all mankind is entitled? If these two diverse communities of faithful….the Christian king of then Abyssinia or the at that time faithless people of Medina (Yathrib) had not been forthcoming with this fundamental right would there even be a Saudi Arabia today? Of course one could not know that….but equally certain, the all encompassing faith of Islam cannot coexist with the racialism of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Read on and then take time to read the comments posted after the article
Since the beginning of the campaign against illegal workers, some foreigners who were born in the Kingdom or spent years working here have started calling on the authorities to consider granting them Saudi citizenship.
Those born in the Kingdom argue that they have spent most of their lives here, speak Arabic and adapted to its culture. They say it would be very difficult to adjust in their home countries.
This sounds to be a valid argument if one was born in a developed industrialized nation. In those countries, a foreigner makes efforts to assimilate in society by learning local languages and adapting to its ways of life.
However, in most Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia most foreigners rarely interact with locals and if they do, they communicate in a language, which is a mix of badly spoken Arabic and sign language. It could be termed gibberish. Moreover, almost every ethnic group lives nearly in complete isolation from the rest of the local community, and other ethnic groups. Every group lives in self-designated neighborhoods busy with its communal activities. For instance, Ethiopians mostly inhabit Riyadh’s neighborhood Manfouha.
In such neighborhoods, there are community schools that only teach their own curriculum instead of using Saudi textbooks. The students only engage with those from the same ethnic background and are deprived of any possibility of interacting with Saudi children. Moreover, communal activities are limited to the same group, including social visitations and functions, as well as religious celebrations, such as Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. These communities even have their medial care and business systems, which cater specifically to their needs. How could a person living in such a social and economic setup hopes to become a Saudi, not to mention if that person is living illegally in the country?
On the other hand, there are those who claim that they have lived long years in the country enough to earn the right to Saudi citizenship. But for decades they have taken away jobs that rightfully belong to the Saudis and yet they demand citizenship.
In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake to grant foreigners Saudi citizenship on any basis. These demands run counter to the objectives of Saudization of the labor market, which is controlled by foreigners with skills that can be found among the local population or Saudis can be trained to occupy these jobs.
Observers may recall that when the new naturalization law was introduced a few years back, the naturalized citizens were flocking to government’s financial institutions seeking loans of all types and to even avail themselves of the benefits of Hafez, a program that provides monthly stipends to the unemployed. One can obviously conclude that the primary purpose for seeking citizenship is to acquire monetary benefits rather than a genuine sentiment of belonging to the Saudi society. We have seen in the past that thousands of foreigners succeeded in obtaining Saudi citizenship and most of them started their businesses in various areas. Interestingly, when one visits their establishments, one would find people belonging to their native countries only.
This situation has been exacerbated by the investment law that permitted foreigners with almost trivial financial resources to invest in projects that have no added value to the economy or in the employment of Saudis. Nevertheless, they are eligible to receive all economic benefits. One of the consequences of opening doors to foreign investors is that they began operating as monopolies. Ubiquitously known among Saudis, each ethnic group controls a particular type of trade, and does not like outside competition. When a Saudi decides to start a new business, such groups work to drive this person out of business or force him to sell his business project to the group. Moreover, these ethnically dominated businesses only hire staff belonging to the same group. In case they hire a Saudi national, it is because of the labor law, and eventually this person would be driven out of his job by creating uncomfortable environment or by alienating and undermining his skills and potentials.
The local press frequently reports the same methods being practiced by most foreigners at managerial or mid-level positions in the private sector. It is not hard to imagine what such elements would do to Saudis if they were granted citizenship.
The Saudi education system and various training programs have produced thousands of competent graduates for the job market. They can easily occupy most of the managerial and mid-level jobs currently occupied by individuals from the developing countries. Hence, the cause of the massive unemployment of Saudis is not due to a lack of skills; it is because of an unfriendly environment and the continuous undermining of the skills and potentials of the Saudi youth by foreigners, pushing them away from their rightful jobs.
There are some nice photographs of Muslims celebrating eid al-adha in 2012 the world over. Photos like this one of Muslims in Lagos, Nigeria are worth your attention. Go here to look at the rest of the pictures that depict the diversity of the Muslim community.
While the world waits for its major super power to default and throw international economies into a tailspin, Muslims the world over are celebrating the festival for the annual pilgrimage, or Hajj. Over two million Muslims participated this year, 2013 and to them and Muslims the world over, congratulations on the occasion of eid al-adha.
I’ve written before about the racial problem our country has; the new targets are Arabs and Muslims and anything that has to do with them in a positive light is enough to send seemingly intelligent people into an emotional tailspin that sees them plummet headfirst into the ground and explode. I’ve also said the religious right of this country has made itself irrelevant with its racist banter that is usually inaccurate and divisive and not at all connected to its core beliefs in the divinity of Jesus and his message of eternal salvation. It’s just something in us that likes to make trouble where there is none. So I’m particularly amused at the uproar over the sign above in a Best Buy’s advertisement that seems to have sent many people off on their own suicide bent rantings. Best Buy’s has been in the cross hairs of some of these people since 2006 when it was said the company stopped recognizing Christmas by removing that word from its ads and using the more generic term “holidays” instead, and now to add insult to injury, the theory goes, they’re further alienating Christians by recognizing a Muslim holiday over the more popular Christmas in their current ads. I guess it didn’t occur to those “Christians” that perhaps Best Buy’s was trying to be inclusive in its sales pitch when it said, “Happy Holidays” by honoring and respecting those Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t commemorate it on 12/25. I guess the “Christians” who took offense at the lack of the word “Christmas” only see one view as sufficient to represent all of Christiandom, but Best Buy’s was smart enough to throw out the missing word “Christmas” red herring by the Christian right and came back with a strong statement which said in part
“Best Buy’s customers and employees around the world represent a variety of faiths and denominations. We respect that diversity and choose to greet our customers and employees in ways that reflect their traditions,” said spokeswoman Lisa Svac Hawks in a written statement to The Detroit News. “In addition to Happy Eid, you will see greetings of Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Feliz Navidad in various Best Buy communications during the holiday season.”
Oops. I guess she told you, all you who had worked yourselves up in a lather over the absence of the word “Christmas”, never mind the absence of the spirit of Christmas, in an advertising campaign. If it’s “Christmas” you want, then it’s “Christmas” you’re going to get! Unfortunately that’s not good enough for many of the “religious right” who when confronted with the reality that another store they had targeted was using the word “Christmas” in their ads said the resulting ads were “offensive”, “patronizing”, a “joke”. It’s apparent what these people are upset with is not the absence of a word, but rather the presence of people who or ideas which are different than themselves. That’s called “xenophobia”….some of it’s synonym are racist, racialist; prejudiced, bigoted, intolerant and those describe the religious right to a Tee! In closing, let me take the time to thank Best Buy’s for their understanding that America is made up of people and faiths from all over the world many of which have been here since the inception of this country. Their attitude towards the presence of such diversity is more American in spirit than any objection raised by the faux pas “religious right”.