Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio:
Remember that mayoral election of 2013? I voted for you.
That summer, I met you at the Arab American festival in Bay Ridge. Many of us chanted your name after you promised to close schools on Muslim holidays. Today, I write because of those promises.
You made clear that once elected, you would work to close New York City public schools on the two Muslim holidays, Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr. After more than a year in office, schools have not closed on the religious holidays, nor have you set plans to close them in the future.
The school system and calendar fail to represent NYC's large Islamic community, forcing Muslim students to choose between honoring their faith and attending classes. Estimates of the Muslim population in the five boroughs have varied over time -- from 600,000 to a million. In 2008, a Columbia University report determined that about 10% of city public schools students are Muslim, and that more than 90% of NYC Muslim kids attend city public schools. Some have projected that student population to be 13%.
By making sure the holidays are observed by schools, you would make our city more tolerant of all faiths. The Muslim community has grown in the past 25 years; it is important that elected officials and the government recognize that these residents deserve the same representation and privileges as Christian and Jewish communities.
I understand that it will be difficult to set exact dates for each of the holidays because they follow the lunar calendar. However, with the help of Muslim leaders, a close approximation can be determined.
It is important that you keep your promise to the Muslim community and maintain our trust in you as our mayor. I hope that you will work to guarantee the observances in future school years. It is important for students like me to know that we live in a city that recognizes and embraces our culture and holidays.
My first vote went to you Mr. Mayor, but my vote in the next election cannot be guaranteed. We New Yorkers know how to respond to broken promises.
Fatima Karim is a political science major at Fordham University.