Non-Catholic celebration to be given official status in Spanish city
On Friday the government of Melilla, headed by the PP, announced that in 2 years the Muslim religious celebration, El Aid el Kebir, will be given official status in Melilla. This decision will please many Muslims as it has been a long standing aspiration for many of the inhabitants of this city.
This is the first time that part of the territory of Spain will give official status to a non-Catholic religious celebration. It is also likely that the celebration in Ceuta will also be officially recognised. In both cities schools, Muslim civil servants and most shops and businesses close on the first day of El Aid el Kebir, also known as the ‘sacrifice of the lamb’ which is the biggest Muslim religious celebration of the year.
Al Mansouri, a member of the local government for the Coalition of Melilla, the Muslim opposition party, reminded councillors that there were 9 official Christian bank holidays and none for Muslims that represent almost 50% of the population of the city.
Dionisio Muñoz for PSOE, the third biggest political force in Melilla, gave his support Al Mansouri.
The Islamic Commission for Melilla will decide before the 30th September the actual date of the bank Holiday in 2010 which will be included in the official calendar.
This demand is a challenge for Muslims because the start of the El Aid el Kebir celebration is only normally declared a few hours before it begins after observing the movement of the moon in the sky. Not all Muslim countries celebrate this festival on the same day although differences tend to be very small. In previous debates Al Mansouri hinted that the US NASA calendar could be used to help predict with accuracy the day of the celebration.
Sectors of the Muslim community have worked for many years to try and predict the start of Ramadán and other important Islamic celebrations with accuracy in order to try and make them more compatible with modern lifestyles.
Now the Islamic Commission for Melilla will be forced to go down the same route.
All political parties in Ceuta have agreed to come together to explore the possibility of replacing an existing bank holiday with the start of el Aid el Kebir.