- Dearborn and Hamtramck have sizeable Muslim populations as well as Muslim mayors
Michigan (Agencies): Two cities in the US state of Michigan have made Eid Al Fitr a paid holiday for city employees, as Muslims across America vie for more visibility.
Hamtramck and Dearborn, both with sizeable Muslim populations that have recently elected Muslim mayors, made Eid a paid holiday for city employees, The Arab American News reported on Friday.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud is also hosting a free Eid brunch that is open to everyone in the community, the first such move in a city that has long been considered a stronghold for Muslims in America.
“I’m taking off with my family; employees tend to take off with their families,” Mr Hammoud said in an interview with Time magazine.
“I think it’s time we modelled that in the city of Dearborn, where we are trying to hire an inclusive and diverse workforce. We should be recognising their holidays and their faith traditions as well.”
The city of Hamtramck made a similar gesture, with Amer Ghalib, the city’s first Muslim mayor, also making Eid a paid holiday for city staff.
“It was long overdue,” Mr Ghalib said. “The whole City Council … are Muslims, so it was important to accommodate them and give them the opportunity to celebrate Eid with their families.”
The move comes amid a nationwide effort to recognise Eid Al Fitr as an official school holiday. So far, 19 school districts with sizeable Muslim populations have adopted the two major Muslim holidays of Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr into their calendars.
Eid Al Fitr is the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The holiday is celebrated with family visits, sweets and presents for children.
But with Muslims in America accounting for little more than 1 per cent of the population, recognition for the holiday has been a struggle.
Muslim Americans also say the rise of Islamophobia following the 9/11 attacks made it even more challenging to advocate for themselves.
But despite this, there are signs that Muslim Americans are gaining more visibility.