- Muslim families had wanted Jersey City schools to shut on September 24 in observance of Eid al-Adha holiday
- After initially approving the move, the state's school board voted to keep the schools open so as not to disrupt the lives of non-Muslim families
- Several Muslim parents who attended the meeting screamed in rage
- One woman in a purple head scarf told the board: 'We're no longer the minority, that's clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon'
- Muslim students who choose to stay home on Thursday will not be penalized, the board said
Published: 17:24 BST, 23 September 2015 | Updated: 22:34 BST, 23 September 2015
Tempers flared at a school board meeting in New Jersey when a room crowded with Muslim parents learned that schools will remain open during Thursday's religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Several of the Muslim parents and children screamed in rage and openly wept when the board announced its decision.
At one point, a young woman in a purple head scarf took the microphone and told them: 'We're no longer the minority, that's clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon.'
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Enraged: Muslim parents in Jersey City were furious to learn during a school board meeting September 17 that local schools will remain open during the holiday of Eid al-Adha
Feeling betrayed: The Jersey City Board of Education had initially proposed to close local schools September 24 allowing Muslim children to observe the holiday, but later had a change of heart
Taunt: This young woman in a purple head scarf took the microphone and addressed the board, telling them with a sneer: 'we're no longer the minority, that's clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon
RELIGIOUS POPULATIONS IN JERSEY CITY BY NUMBERS
New Jersey as a whole boasts the second largest Muslim population in the US after Michigan.
In New Jersey, 4.2 per cent of residents who say they are religious are Muslim Americans, according to the latest U.S. Religions Census.
The city, which has 257,000 residents, is considered one of the most ethnically diverse in the Nation.
Of those who say they are religious, 3.3 per cent are Jewish American. There are also established Evangelical Protestant and Orthodox communities.
Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Arab Americans compose a significant proportion of Jersey City's Muslim population.
A Jewish parent who attended the meeting said some people in his community felt they were being discriminated against because the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were not on Jersey City's official school closure list.
Meanwhile just across the Hudson River in New York City, schools will be closed for Eid Al-Adha for the first time as a result of a change put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March.
The Jersey City Board of Education had originally proposed to close local schools on September 24 to allow Muslim children to observe the holiday.
The City Council unanimously voted in favor of the closure two weeks ago.
However, during the contentious four-hour meeting held last Thursday, the board voted to keep Jersey City schools open so as not to cause disruptions for non-Muslim families, reported NBC New York.
Silver lining: The board noted that Muslim students who choose to take Thursday off to observe the holiday will not be penalized
Practical concerns: Board member Gerald Lyons told the crowd closing Jersey City schools on such a short notice would cause hardship for non-Muslim families
‘Doing this at this point on six days’ notice for this upcoming holiday is going to cause undue hardship on 5,000 to 10,000 people, who are going to have to scramble to get coverage for their children,’ board member Gerald Lyons told the meeting.
Board members said that Muslim students who choose to take Thursday off to observe Eid al-Adha will not be penalized.
The school board is expected to review its religious holiday policy later this year.
Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.