By Nigel Boys
Despite having garnered over 100,000 signatures over a period of 30 days, prompting them to respond, the White House declined on Friday to declare federal holidays for the Muslim holy days of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.
In their response to the petition on the White House’s “We the People,” site, Obama’s administration said, “Proposals for new permanent federal holidays are typically the province of Congress.”
USA Today reports that the only designated 10 federal holidays each year by Congress are: New Year’s Day; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Washington’s Birthday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving; and Christmas.
The petitioners wrote: “There is a large population of Muslim people in the U.S and the two holidays that are celebrated are not recognized in calendars to mark these special days.” It continued, “Students are missing out on school, people taking time off from work, this is all because these holidays are unknown.”
President Obama denounced intolerance towards Muslim Americans following the recent terrorist attack in Paris, France and the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, California last week, by a radicalized Islamic couple, but he did not grant the petitioners request. However, he did sign an executive order on the same day he declined the petition, giving federal employees a half day off on Christmas Eve, December 24, so they could go home to their families.
Time Magazine reported that the White House further stated that while President Barack Obama “understands the importance” of the three-day event, marking the end of Ramadan, it’s up to Congress to make the call.
“While Eid is not among the public holidays designated by Congress, we want you to know that the Administration is committed to advancing the ability of all people to practice their faith, observe their religious practices, and celebrate religious holidays,” the White House response continued.
Federal officials had been prompted to review the petition, which was created in September, after it garnered over 127,000 signatures, the outlet reports.
In reference to the recognition of Eid as an official holiday by New York City’s school district earlier this year, the White House said that states, cities and school districts can set their own holidays. To allow employees to celebrate religious observances, employers are required by federal law to make religious accommodations, the White House further pointed out.
“As Muslims mark the end of the month, they are reminded that Ramadan is a time to reflect spiritually, build communally, and aid those in need,” Obama said at the time of the New York City school district’s announcement. “While Eid marks the end of Ramadan, it marks a new beginning for each individual – a reason to celebrate and express gratitude on this holiday.”
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God is reportedly celebrated by Muslims in their Eid al-Adha and the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is celebrated by Eid al-Fitr.