Minnesota taxpayers are footing the bill for a charter school that reportedly violates the law by promoting religion — Islam.
Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Inver Grove Heights regularly holds prayer sessions and includes study of the Koran in its curriculum, even though charter schools are public schools and must not endorse or promote religion, according to columnist Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
She writes: “TIZA has many characteristics that suggest a religious school. It shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, whose mission is ‘establishing Islam in Minnesota.’ The building also houses a mosque. TIZA's executive director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim imam, or religious leader, and its sponsor is an organization called Islamic Relief.”
Zaman maintains that TIZA is not a religious school, and that prayer is voluntary.
But Kersten says a substitute teacher who worked at the school told her that students were taken to the bathroom to perform “ritual washing,” then were led into the gym where a man dressed in white with a white cap led them in prayer.
“The prayer I saw was not voluntary,” the teacher told Kersten, adding that students were studying the Koran, “which gave me the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other.”
The ACLU of Minnesota has begun an investigation of TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education has also launched a review, according to Kersten, who concludes:
“TIZA is skirting the law by operating what is essentially an Islamic school at taxpayer expense…
“There's a double standard at work here — if TIZA were a Christian school, it would likely be gone in a heartbeat.”
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