O’REILLY: “Impact” segment tonight, Halloween and Christmas celebrations may be banned in a suburb of Chicago because of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The Oaklawn School Board is meeting tonight to consider banning all specific celebrations, because a Muslim parent wanted the school district to honor Ramadan, saying the Islamic tradition should be recognized in the public schools. That has caused Superintendent Tom Smyth to propose banning Halloween and Christmas celebrations in favor of generic fall and winter holiday deals.
Joining us now from Chicago is Ahmed Rehab, the executive director on the Council on American Islamic Relations in that city.
All right, so the lady goes in, Muslim lady. And — Elizabeth Zadan (ph), and asked Mr. Smyth, look, we want to have some recognition of Ramadan here. Do you know any more about it, what the recognition was that the woman wanted?
AHMED REHAB, CAIR CHICAGO: This woman is a member of the PTA of the school. She’s a parent with three children in the school. A little context to the story — about 50 percent of the student population in this particular school are of a Muslim background. With that in mind, she wanted to decorate the school for the Ramadan season, just as she has — just as she had last year.
Last year, she not only decorated the school for Ramadan, she personally decorated the school for Christmas and for Hanukkah as well.
O’REILLY: OK. (INAUDIBLE) star and crescent flag, which indeed they did. And I guess they got complaints about it. And that’s why this guy Smyth said, enough with the specific holidays, correct?
REHAB: Correct. And that’s where the problem is, Bill. That’s what I want to clarify. In the news media, they have erroneously reported that the issue is a Muslim parent or the Muslim party, you know, students, parents, and others, who wanted to do away with Christmas and Hanukkah. That is not true.
What the Muslim party, the parents and the students wanted was to have equal representation for their own season, for Ramadan, just as they have for Hanukah and for Christmas.
O’REILLY: All right. By equal representation, though, here’s where we get a little dicey. And let me tell you why. If I’m Smyth, I’m the superintendent. I say to Ms. Zadan, sure, you can put up the star and crescent and flag. And you know, a few decorations. And here is your wall space, and you can do it.
But you want parity with Christmas and Halloween, you can’t have that because these are traditional holidays in America. We have a system here where Christmas is a federal holiday. Halloween is a celebration for children. And you know, we’re going to do a little bit more there. Would you object to that or would she object to that?
REHAB: I’m not sure I understand what you mean by parity.
O’REILLY: It’s not parity. It’s not parity. You don’t have the same amount of time to — you know, to one as you do to the other, based upon the other having particularly Christmas a legal holiday status.
REHAB: The only issue for her was decorating the school…
O’REILLY: That was it.
REHAB: …and being able to celebrate Ramadan.
REHAB: That was it. So…
O’REILLY: Well, she had been allowed to…
REHAB: As a matter of fact, Bill…
O’REILLY: …then why is Smyth — and we talked to Smyth — but he wouldn’t come on. He just says, look, you know, I’m tired of all of this. I don’t know why he would be tired of it if it’s just a matter of wall space putting up a few decorations.
REHAB: Because the real culprits in this story is a few parents who are obviously non Muslim, maybe Christian, maybe something else, who couldn’t find it in their hearts to tolerate another group of people having equal representation for their faith…
O’REILLY: OK, but again, equal representation is the problem. That sounds to me like you want exactly what they get for Christmas.
REHAB: Decorating hallways in a school. OK? It’s not chiseling away at anybody else’s rights whatsoever.
REHAB: …they’re making a mountain out of mole hill.
O’REILLY: All right, let me tell you what I would do if I…
REHAB: It’s ridiculous.
O’REILLY: Let me tell you what I would do if I were the superintendent. You tell me if I’m right or wrong. I would say you can have a Ramadan display. And here’s the wall space for it. Not all over the school, but here it is. And you can put up what you want. And we’ll actually tell people in the school it is Ramadan. And here’s what Ramadan is. I would want that to be taught. that OK?
REHAB: Yes, absolutely.
O’REILLY: All right, but then on Halloween and Christmas, there would probably be bigger displays, more displays, of those two celebrations based upon the traditions of America. Would that be OK? REHAB: Once again, Bill, it would be OK because Muslims and the school and elsewhere are not pitting one against the other.
REHAB: They never brought Christmas and Halloween into the discussion.
O’REILLY: That’s what I would do and — all right, that’s what I would do. If you would be all right that, and you’re — we can’t speak for the lady, Ms. Zadan, but you know her. She’d be all right with that, right?
REHAB: I believe she would, but here’s the issue that I want you to address yourself, Bill. And that is, do you find it problematic that a group of parents cannot tolerate the representation of Ramadan where 50 percent of the student body is Muslim…
O’REILLY: If they said that…
REHAB: …to the point where…
O’REILLY: If those parents said that, I would find it problematic.
REHAB: Thank you. Now here’s the point…
O’REILLY: Because I think we’re all Americans.
O’REILLY: And we’re a pluralistic society.
REHAB: This is a pluralistic society.
O’REILLY: And we should be generous.
O’REILLY: And there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging Ramadan. Absolutely.
REHAB: Bill, as a Muslim growing up in Manchester, England, I celebrated Christmas like everybody else because I was a tolerant individual.
REHAB: It did not take away from Islam. I was a very practicing observant Muslim.
O’REILLY: All right, as long as you want parity and as long as there’s not a scorecard, I got no problem with it. Mr. Rehab, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
REHAB: we don’t want a scorecard, we just want tolerance
O’REILLY: Right back with one of the biggest villains in America today. And later, do you want to make terrorism a criminal act instead of an act of war? I don’t, but the Supreme Court might, upcoming.
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