Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Upset that Muslim holidays are overlooked on the federal holiday calendar, a petition was started on WhiteHouse.Gov to add Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as national holidays. More than 127,000 people signed the petition. And the White House responded to their request.

The response acknowledged the importance of these Muslim holidays, but it says the President has little authority over this matter. His pen and phone will remain silent on this. Instead these petitioners were told federal holidays are a matter handled by Congress.

Thank you for signing this petition calling for the designation of Eid as a public holiday across the United States.

The President understands the importance of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr for Muslims in the United States and across the world and has issued statements for both holidays to acknowledge and celebrate these events. As he said earlier this year on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration of Eid is a vibrant and spiritual time when “millions of people head to local mosques for special Eid prayers followed by festive gatherings, gift exchanges, and feasts among friends, neighbors and families.”

Currently, Congress has designated eleven “public holidays” that apply to federal institutions and employees, and to the District of Columbia. You can find the list here. (Other institutions, including banks, libraries, and schools may also close on those days, but are not required to do so by federal law.) Ten of these public holidays occur every year; the eleventh is Inauguration Day. The birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most recently established such holiday. Proposals for new permanent federal holidays are typically the province of Congress.

In addition to federally-designated holidays, states and local governments also have the ability to recognize holidays for other legal purposes. Earlier this year, New York City’s school district became the largest in the nation to recognize Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as holidays on the official school calendar alongside Christmas, Hanukkah, and other religious holidays. The President said that this decision represents the kind of “diversity and inclusiveness that adds to the richness of our nation.” And we know similar requests have been raised with other state and local governments around the country.

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. This includes ensuring employers with fifteen or more employees comply with the federal requirement to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious practices — including time off from work to observe religious holidays — without undue hardship to their businesses. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the body responsible for educating employers about and enforcing these and other provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Common accommodations under these provisions include granting schedule changes to employees who need time off to mark a religious holiday or to engage in another kind of religious observance or activity.

In addition to taking these and other steps to safeguard the religious freedom of all Americans, the White House is pleased to commemorate a wide variety of religious holidays and seasons, including Easter, Diwali, Ramadan, and Yom Kippur. As President Obama recently said, “America is strengthened by people of every faith and every background.” We look forward to continuing to honor this principle.

We hope you’ll continue to participate on the platform.

— The We the People Team

Why do you think President Obama isn’t helping them on this issue? Do you think the timing of recent Islamic terrorist activities have tied his hands or is he actually being respectful of the separation of powers laid out in the Constitution?

H/T: Mad World News


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