CAIR-Chicago Defends Equal Representation of Ramadan
FOX-News O'Reilly Factor
October 2, 2007
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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