You are reading

Queens Student Fights to Make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha State Holidays

Jamaica resident, Queens organizer and college student Tanbir Chowdhury (Courtesy of Tanbir Chowdhury)

Oct. 4, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A Queens college student and organizer is fighting for New York state to make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha public holidays.

Tanbir Chowdhury, a 20-year-old Jamaica resident and John Jay College student, is calling on state legislators to sign onto to a bill to make the Muslim holidays — which celebrate the end of Ramadan — state holidays.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the Senate and Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez in the Assembly, would make the two days public holidays in New York, meaning all state/ municipal offices and facilities — including public schools — would be closed on those two days.

Currently, the only religious holiday that is designated a state holiday in New York is Christmas. While Eid is observed in New York City public schools, the bill would require all public schools across the state to give students and teachers time off for both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

“We have Eid as a public school holiday in New York City now, but for the most part of my K to 12 [grade] life, it wasn’t,” Chowdhury told the Queens Post. “My family had to decide whether to send me to school or celebrate the holidays and pray.”

He said that the hundreds of thousands of Muslim Americans across the state deserve time off from school to properly observe their faith.

Chowdhury has started calling up and emailing lawmakers asking them to support the bill.

He published a spreadsheet last Wednesday to show New Yorkers where their representatives stand on the bill. The document includes each legislator’s office phone number so those who want to see Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha recognized as state holidays can call them up and ask for their support. Others soon joined Chowdhury in making calls.

Since releasing the document, Chowdhury has already gotten a number of legislators to support this bill and even a few to sign on as co-sponsors.

When he started the bill had just one co-sponsor in the Senate. Now it has five.

Senators Andrew Gourdarnes, John Lui, Jessica Ramos and Michael Gianaris all joined as co-sponsors after Chowdhury began campaigning for the bill.

“Between the time the spreadsheet was released to today, we’ve gotten 10 new co-sponsors — four [of whom] are in the Senate,” Chowdhury said Wednesday.

He said he was surprised, and pleased, to see how quickly it gained momentum.

“Two people mentioned Senator Jessica Ramos in the comments [on social media],” he said. “She liked both of their replies and then the next day, she was a co-sponsor on the bill.”

On the Assembly side, Chowdhury convinced Assembly Members Jenifer Rajkumar, Zohran Mamdani, Jessica González-Rojas and Kenny Burgos to co-sponsor the bill.

The Assembly bill now has 15 co-sponsors and Chowdhury said at least two more members have promised to become co-sponsors as well.

The bill, however, will not be taken up until the legislative session begins again in January.

“Right now, the most I can do is try to get as many co-sponsors prior to session starting,” Chowdhury said.

Two prior versions of the bill died in earlier legislative sessions, but Chowdhury believes this time will be different.

He said there wasn’t enough commotion and advocacy around the prior bills. In fact, he didn’t know there was already a bill on the floor to make Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha public holidays until he started researching.

“It was hard to find people discussing it — it was hard to find the bill itself,” Chowdhury said. “Someone from an assembly member’s office had to tell me the bill was already on the floor.”

He plans to keep making noise about the importance of the bill to Muslim New Yorkers, especially when the session begins.

“There’s no excuse why this bill should not pass in a Democratic supermajority frankly,” he said. “I think we have an amazing shot to get it passed this session if we keep the momentum and demand up.”

Chowdhury said the bill is long overdue and would be a great win for the Muslim community.

email the author: [email protected]

11 Comments

Click for Comments 
Patrick

Hey Mike Gianaris – I would like to have my Jewish holiday made into a state holiday. Will you be a sponsor of this bill? NOT!!!!!!!!!!! Only people of color. That’s all I do!

11
4
Reply
Alex Kintner

As a practicing Druid, I demand to have the Summer Solstice made a government holiday so that I can fly over to Stonehenge evey year to celebrate.

My wife, a practicing Wiccan also wants a paid day off on Elizabeth Montgomery’s birthday.

19
3
Reply
Agreed, the government shouldn't recognize religious holidays

That’s why Christmas isn’t a federal holiday. Oh wait, it is. That offends you too right?

4
7
Reply
Good idea

I say keep the Federal government and schools open on Christmas. No Christmas vacations either. Get back to work.

1
2
Reply
Anonymous

Christmas is as much a secular holiday as a religious one and has been since it was made a federal holiday. But you already knew that when you proffered this false analogy.

3
2
Reply
Flying Spaghetti Monster

It literally celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s impossible to say it’s secular. How these so-called Christians celebrate it is another matter, but that hypocrisy knows no bounds is not new either.

Reply
Keep Christ in Christmas

Christmas is secular? Did anyone tell the churches? Do you know what the “Christ” part of the name stands for?

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946-50 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.