Keeping up with BAAG

BANGLADESHI AMERICAN ADVOCACY GROUP LEGISLATIVE DAY DRAWS OVER 100 PARTICIPANTS TO THE ALBANY STATE CAPITOL

Due for Immediate release

March 13, 2018

         The Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group (BAAG) held its 9th Annual Legislative Day at the Capitol in Albany.  Three busloads of New Yorkers leaving from Jackson Heights and Jamaica left early on the morning of March 13th for meetings with legislators at the Capitol. 

         The Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Felix Ortiz, greeted the attendees as they gathered in Room 104A. The attendees had appointments with eighty state senators and assembly members from 10:30 am through 3 pm.

        State Senators Martin Dilan, Jesse Hamilton and Assemblymembers Felix Ortiz and Eric Dilan held a recognition ceremony for BAAG attendees in the well of the Capitol.  Many elected officials stopped by the meeting room including Assemblymembers Mike Miller, David Weprin, Assistant Speak Felix Ortiz and Senators Velmanette Montgomery, James Sanders, Toby Ann Stavisky and Roxanne Persaud.

        The BAAG Board of Directors were invited to a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Governor Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary of Education Jere Hochman.  

       BAAG was also given the honor of opening the Assembly Legislative Session with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an.

       The issues participants advocated for are:
1)
Religious Garb Bill A04977, S01503-  Prohibits discrimination against religious attire and appurtenances thereto, including facial hair; referred to Governmental Operations Committees in Assembly and Senate.

2) Eid Holiday in CUNY AND SUNY A04930, S01560- Relates to the observance of Eid Ul-Fitr and Eid Ul-Adha by institutions within the state university and the city university of New York; referred to Higher Education Committees in Assembly and Senate.

3) Halal Food in Public Schools A02473, S04950- Requires public schools in any city with a population over one million to offer Halal food options during lunch; referred to Education Committees in Assembly and Senate.

4)  Election Law Bill A4072, S26 Change to the election law that would require tax releases from any Presidential and or VP candidate for the US if they want to get on NYS ballot; referred to Election Law Committee.

5) DREAM Act A03039, S00471- This bill would create a DREAM fund commission and a DREAM fund in order to advance the educational opportunities of the children of immigrants by providing scholarships to college-bound students; passed Assembly- Referred to Higher Education Committee in Senate

6) New York Muslim American Advisory Council A03167, S02187 -Advise the Legislature on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in New York; referred to Assembly Governmental Operations, Senate Finance Committee.

7) Autism ID Cards- A00249,  S02565- Relates to providing for identification cards for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Our Constitutional Right to

Eid Holiday 

By Syed Kabir 

March 2017

Published in the

Bangladeshi American Legislative Day Magazine 2017 Edition

           Have you ever asked why Christmas is a federal holiday and eid is not? I'm sure we all enjoy the benefits and happiness of our nation's most glorified holiday but are other religious holidays being left out? Many of us enjoy this federal holiday by spending time with our families and may even go as far as putting up a Christmas tree; there is no doubt that the Christmas season is a joyous time, even for Muslims in the United States. Nevertheless, this article is intended to briefly and objectively explore the constitutional realm of federal holidays and whether it should accommodate the Eid holidays and holidays of other religious faiths. 

            The Establishment Clause, rooted in the first amendment of the United States Constitution, states that the government is prohibited from making any law "respecting the establishment of religion". Moreover, the establishment clause of our constitution specifically prohibits our government from unduly favoring one religion over another. From a textual perspective, the literal meaning of this is undisputed. Nevertheless, when we examine the way holidays such as Christmas are treated by our government, doesn't it seem to be a direct contradiction with our Constitution? Isn't making Christmas a federal holiday "respecting the establishment" of a particular religious faith while "unduly favoring" one religion over Islam and other religious faiths? To say Eid is not a federal holiday is to say that our government is actively leaving Muslims and other religious faiths behind.

            To conclude, it should first be noted that this article is not to attack the Christmas holiday and not intended to promote the idea of stripping away our fellow American people from the federal holidays that we actively enjoy. As Americans, we should have respect for all religious faiths. However, this article is intended to promote the national acceptance of eid and holidays of other religious faiths as federal holidays. 

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