The government has knocked back a petition signed by more than 123,000 people calling for Eid and Diwali to be made public holidays despite an MP urging it to reconsider.

Petitioners argue that making the sacred days in the Muslim and Hindu calender recognised in the same way that Christmas Day is would be a sign that Britain is proud of its multicultural make-up, and would only encourage better community cohesion.

The petition was however rejected by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, leading Conservative MP for Harrow East Bob Blackman to initiate a parliamentary debate in the Backbench Business Committee in a bid to make government reconsider.

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Mr Blackman said: “This is one of the largest e-petitions we’ve ever had and I felt it was extremely important to ensure that it received its deserved time in Parliament. 

"I believe very passionately that community barriers and prejudices are best broken down when religions and their festivals are opened out for everyone to enjoy and celebrate. 

"We have fewer public holidays in this country than almost everywhere else in the world, and I feel that recognising dates of importance to our Hindu and Muslim communities – the second and third largest religious communities in our country – would be an important statement of recognition of their place in Britain today."

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Should Muslim and Hindu holidays Eid and Diwali be made public holidays?

 

The MP's call for the government to reconsider its position on the matter was knocked back however.

Business minister Jenny Willott MP (Liberal Democrat), replying to Mr Blackman, said: "The government does not believe that there should be a public holiday to mark these particular occasions. 

"I know that will disappoint some people."

What do you think? Should Diwali and Eid be made public holidays? Email reporter John Shammas on john.shammas@trinitymirror.com or comment in the comment section below.