BERLIN (JTA) — Jews and Muslims should have public holidays in Germany like their Christian counterparts, leaders of the two communities said.
Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper that Yom Kippur could be the best choice for such a public holiday. Public schools would be closed to impress on the public the meaning of the Day of Atonement.
Kramer also said he supported the idea of establishing a Muslim public holiday in Germany, too.
"It would be a very positive signal," he told reporters.
His words came after Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish community in Germany, called on Germany to add a Muslim holiday — such as the final day of Ramadan — to the school calendar as a symbol of multiculturalism in Germany.
Seyran Ates, Turkish-born women’s rights activist, suggested the idea would promote xenophobia among average Germans. Ates was joined in opposition by Berlin’s Education Senator Jurgen Zollner of the Social Democratic Party and leaders of the Protestant Church.
According to the Morgenpost, a spokesman for Protestant Bishop Wolfgang Huber said Tuesday that "Germany’s culture of religious celebration is Christian," but added that Muslim pupils should have a day off for their religious holidays.