Update: The UK government has rejected the proposal of declaring Eid and Diwali as national holidays. They said adding more public holidays to the existing list will affect the country's economy.
An online petition asking politicians to grant bank holidays to Hindus and Muslims for their respective festivals Diwali and Eid has received more than 119,000 signatures and could be debated in the House of Commons. If accepted, these would be the first non-Christian religious holidays in Britain, possibly leading to other faiths demanding their festivals to be recognized as well. According to certain rules laid out in 2011, the e-petition will have to be considered in parliament as it has secured more than 100,000 signatures.
Details of the petition have reportedly been passed to the Backbench Business Committee that decides whether or not a proposition is suitable for debate. The petition was set up by Jon Timmis and it states, “I believe that, given the number of Muslims and Hindus in this country it is only fair we allow them to have the most important days in their faiths recognized in law.”
The e-petition has led to widespread debate across social media – while community and religious leaders have distanced themselves from the idea, popular opinion is split uniformly. However, critics have pointed out that both festivals are set on the lunar calendar and thus fall on different dates each year. Since there are similar problems with Easter, which can take place any time over a four-week period, critics believe it is best that Diwali and Eid are not made bank holidays.
“I don’t think it is a very good idea. How many festivals are there for other religions. Should they all be marked with a public holiday?” said Vinod Popat, chairman of The British Hindu Voice.
Additionally, nationalists have taken offence to these developments, as they wanted St George’s Day and St David’s Day marked as holidays as well but their e-petition received only 34 signatures.
“Any move to recognise other faiths is a good thing but I do not think there should be a public holiday,” said Suleman Nagdi, member of the Federation of Muslim Organizations in Leicester.
Photo Credit: R4Vi