Petition for Muslim Holidays in America: A wasted effort or an educational opportunity?

There is a sudden interest in getting Muslim holidays declared by the White House. Here is why I think it is a distraction and a waste of time and effort.

An online petition to White House is simply a request for response to an issue. A response does not mean it will be legislated or proclaimed into a law by Presidential decree. Check the popular online petitions. Note that most are not likely to be made into law:

Federal holidays are designated by the United States Congress in Title V of the United States Code. So a federal holiday should be passed by the US Congress which means the speaker needs to allow it. This will happen if a good number of congressmen have already expressed support for it and the opposition is not significant. Apart from this there are many political considerations as well.

Let us say that a miracle happens and the US Congress passes it and the President signs it into law. Still the law has no authority over any state, city, private, commercial or educational institutions. It can only be observed by federal employees which are a fraction of the total workforce.

There is another way a holiday can be observed bypassing the congress: A Presidential decree. This can happen only if the holiday is already being observed by several states, cities, and educational districts throughout the nation.

Christmas is the only religious holiday observed by the Federal government. It took more than two centuries for more than 90% of the observants to get the first state declare it as a holiday (Alabama, 1836). Then it took 34 years for the Federal Government to recognize it.

So for the 2-5% Muslims, the real work is to convince your local city and educational districts to observe the holidays. Once there are enough educational districts observing it, then the state can be petitioned. Once there are enough states observing it, the White House can be petitioned.


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