Muslims call for festival public holiday

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 December, 1997, 12:00am

Muslim leaders will write to the Home Affairs Department today, asking for the religious celebration of Eid-ul-Adha to be declared a public holiday.

Inspired by the Executive Council's decision to declare Buddha's birthday a general public holiday from 1999, the Muslim community's board of trustees plans to ask for similar treatment.

Board member Abdul Sukur said the festival marking the end of the Haj - the Muslim pilgrimage - was celebrated by sacrificing cows and sheep.

Under the Muslim calendar, festivals always fall 10 days before the date of the previous year's celebrations. The Eid-ul-Adha will fall on April 7 next year. 'We have not requested this before as there were not many Muslims around,' Mr Sukur said. 'But numbers have been increasing - today there are 70,000 or 80,000 Muslims in Hong Kong.

'There is a need to make one of our religious festivals a public holiday as many Muslims who want to celebrate that day either have to take a day off in advance or after, but never on the actual day.

'There are many inconveniences as a result. If both husband and wife work, neither would have the time to prepare food for our religious feast days, Eid-ul-Adha or Eid-ul-Fitr,' he said.

'Even in China, where Muslims are the largest religious minority, the Eid-ul-Fitr [marking the end of Ramadan] has been made into a general holiday.'