Multiculturalism and racism or bigotry go hand-in-hand in the sense that many oversimplify these terms to be opposite sides of the same coin. This is to say, if you do not support multiculturalism or a more plural society then you are racist or a bigot and conversely if you have racist or bigoted tendencies you cannot support multiculturalism. Sometimes I wonder whether the equation is quite as simple as that.
Nevertheless, the Big Apple or perhaps the Big Melting Pot that is New York City is soon to vote on whether two Muslim holidays are to be declared school holidays for all. The two holidays are Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha which celebrate the end of the fasting month and the Haj pilgrimage month respectively. The vote is to take place on 16 October 2008.
This is something that has been on the agenda since 2005 and it seems that the supporters of the vote have finally mustered the numbers to take the issue to committee and then get it through to a full council vote.
The measure was initiated by a Muslim councilor from Harlem, Robert Jackson. However, it is claimed that the measure has broad support within the community and also on the council and this support is from non-Muslims as well. Broad-based support is no guarantee that it will get up when it comes to a vote.
I wonder though whether this sets a precedent that every religion should be able to lobby for its special days to be legislatively declared holidays and then have them so declared. I am happy for governments to declare as many religious holidays that they want. Simply, the more they declare the less number of days I have to work while still getting paid.
The population of NYC is approximately 7 million and of these 1 million are Muslims.