On the October 27 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly called the idea of closing public schools for the observance of Muslim holidays “absurd in a Judeo-Christian country.” O’Reilly made this remark during a discussion with Hillsborough County, Florida, commissioner Brian Blair, who opposed the Hillsborough County school board’s decision to keep public schools open on Yom Kippur and Good Friday during the 2006-2007 school year, a departure from the school district’s earlier practice of closing schools on those days.
In December 2004, Hillsborough County Muslims, with the backing of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked the school board to close schools on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Instead of giving students the day off on Eid Al-Fitr, the school board voted to keep schools open on Yom Kippur and Good Friday during the 2006-2007 school year, reasoning that the school district could close schools on days when a substantial number of students would be absent but could not close schools specifically for the observance of religious holidays. The school district will continue its practice of allowing students to take days off on religious holidays, although schools will remain open.
From the October 27 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BLAIR: Well, in December of 2004, a gentleman representing the Muslim religion came before the school board and asked if Eid, which I believe is part of Ramadan, be recognized as an official school holiday. That went to a subcommittee, a calendar committee that’s comprised of 28 members. Where these members come from, we still don’t have the exact answers. I guess they’re citizens, friends of the school board members, various people like this. As a matter of fact, I think there’s a Jewish representative and a Muslim representative on the board. Of the 28, only 12 showed up, as I understand it. They gave them very little feedback other than the option of taking President’s Day and turning it — they basically gave —
O’REILLY: So a Muslim wanted a Muslim holiday, which is absurd in a Judeo-Christian country. I mean, we can’t be having Hindu and Buddha. I mean, come on. I mean, this country is founded on Judeo-Christian traditions.
O’REILLY: Those traditions have been in play for more than 200 years. Christmas is a federal holiday. You know, somebody walks in and says, “Well, I just moved here and I want, you know, this Shinto shrine.” And you’re going, “Well, look, this is a traditional American situation that we’ve done for hundreds of years.” But now you knocked it out.
– END –