London has become the UK’s first city to recognize Islamic holidays, a move meant to encourage the integration of a religious minority often vilified by opponents of immigration.
Tower Hamlets recommends that its schools close on the Islamic feasts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha.
The local authority states: “Tower Hamlets policy is that schools should close for Eid (these dates have been advised by the East London Mosque).
Muslim employees and students will be allowed days off to celebrate their holidays and Islamic classes will be allowed in state schools, authorities and Islamic groups said after negotiations.
“We hope that the introduction of Muslim religious classes in the capital will be a signal for other cities,” said a source close to Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury and head of COE).
“This agreement is an important step towards recognition of Islam in the country.”
The agreement will come into force next year, the second of this kind (following Germanys decision) in a country home to some 2.9 million, about 75% of whom have UK citizenship.
Muslim groups in London, representing some 38% of Muslims, said the agreement was a historic sign of acceptance.
“Muslims consider London and the UK their home,” said a colleague of Benjamin Bruce, Euro Islam.
Manchester council, possibly the next city to participate, said: “We encourage schools to work with local faith groups to develop guidance and co-ordinate the times taken for religious observance.
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