The Muslim American Society is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, out of which the genocidal terrorist group Hamas emerged. The Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society has been the source of local controversies involving the purported observance of Sharia in public facilities such as taxis based at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society also houses a Minnesota charter school in the Twin Cities suburb Inver Grover Heights. The school is Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy — named for the Muslim general who conquered medieval Spain. As a charter school, Minnesota taxpayers foot the bill for it. Star Tribune metro columnist Katherine Kersten first wrote about the school after attending the MAS Minnesota convention:
At its 2007 convention, MAS-MN featured the notorious Shayk Khalid Yasin, who is well-known in Britain and Australia for teaching that husbands can beat disobedient wives, that gays should be executed and that the United States spreads the AIDS virus in Africa through vaccines for tropical diseases.
Yasin’s topic? “Building a Successful Muslim Community in Minnesota.”
Kersten discovered that TIZA is an intergral part of the Muslim community MAS is building in Minnesota. All or almost all of its students are Muslim, its principal is an imam, its sponsor is Islamic Relief-USA, and it sits in a building owned by, and shared with, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota as well as its Al-Aman Mosque.
TIZA’s calendar and days are set up to accommodate Muslim students. School breaks for prayers at 1:00 in the carpeted prayer area in the middle of the school. TIZA’s cafeteria is halal. Arabic as a second language is mandatory. According to a document filed by TIZA with the Minnesota Department of Education, it provides after-school (religious) instruction “conducted by various non-profit organizations” that is the main reason given by 77 percent of parents for sending their children to TIZA. The after-school instruction is overwhelmingly the primary reason given by parents for sending their children to TIZA.
The school’s principal declined to meet with Kersten for an interview or allow her to visit the school in connection with her March 8 column. In today’s column, Kersten reports from inside the madrassa courtesy of the eyewitness testimony of a substitute teacher:
Amanda Getz of Bloomington is a substitute teacher. She worked as a substitute in two fifth-grade classrooms at TIZA on Friday, March 14. Her experience suggests that school-sponsored religious activity plays an integral role at TIZA.
Arriving on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, she says she was told that the day’s schedule included a “school assembly” in the gym after lunch.
Before the assembly, she says she was told, her duties would include taking her fifth-grade students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform “their ritual washing.”
Afterward, Getz said, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day,” was preparing to lead prayer. Beside him, another man “was prostrating himself in prayer on a carpet as the students entered.”
“The prayer I saw was not voluntary,” Getz said. “The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred.”
Islamic Studies was also incorporated into the school day. “When I arrived, I was told ‘after school we have Islamic Studies,’ and I might have to stay for hall duty,” Getz said. “The teachers had written assignments on the blackboard for classes like math and social studies. Islamic Studies was the last one — the board said the kids were studying the Qu’ran. The students were told to copy it into their planner, along with everything else. That gave me the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other.”
After school, Getz’s fifth-graders stayed in their classroom and the man in white who had led prayer in the gym came in to teach Islamic Studies. TIZA has in effect extended the school day — buses leave only after Islamic Studies is over. Getz did not see evidence of other extra-curricular activity, except for a group of small children playing outside.
Relying on the same school report I obtained from the Minnesota Department of Education when I was working on “What is to be done?,” Kersten notes:
Significantly, 77 percent of TIZA parents say that their “main reason for choosing TIZA … was because of after-school programs conducted by various non-profit organizations at the end of the school period in the school building,” according to a TIZA report. TIZA may be the only school in Minnesota with this distinction.
Kersten’s column strongly suggests that this public school’s wildly popular religious instruction is not the school’s only distinction, or even its most troubling. Muslim activists have found a workable seam in the purported separation of church and state in Minnesota. One does not need to engage in much speculation to foresee the day when Minnesota’s burgeoning Muslim population will be educated in separate charter schools like TIZA at taxpayers’ expense, where they will receive religious instruction courtesy of the likes of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.
What is an opponent of the phenomenon represented by TIZA to do? If TIZA’s arrangement passes muster with state authorities — who are both asleep at the switch and unequipped to police an institution such as TIZA for legal comliance — an opponent is left with two options. One must either await judicial intervention at the behest of some party with standing to bring a lawsuit raising the obvious First Amendment issues, or one must work for the demise of charter schools.