The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy K-8 public charter school is located in suburban St. Paul. It appears to be is an Islamic school operating illegally at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school’s principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (I’m not sure who owns it now). The school has in any event had a mutually beneficial relationship with MAS Minnesota since the school’s inception. The study of Arabic is required at the school. The Arabic comes in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.
The ACLU Minnesota has brought a lawsuit challenging the legality of the school’s operation on public funds; the lawsuit is pending in federal court in Minnesota. Prompted by the reportage of then-Star Tribune metro columnist Katherine Kersten, the ACLU Minnesota commenced an investigation of the school. Concluding that the school was in fact operating illegally as a religious institution, the ACLU Minnesota filed the lawsuit. The ACLU Minnesota is represented in the lawsuit by one of the most prominent law firms in the state.
In her Star Tribune column “Affidavits portray TiZa as threatening,” Kersten detailed some of the evidence that TiZA has sought to intimidate witnesses, including an affidavit filed by former MAS Minnesota spokesman Khalid Elmasry. Elmasry is also a former officer of the entity created by MAS Minnesota to hold the building in which TiZA sits.
Elmasry recently testified about TiZA before the Minnesota Senate subcommittee on charter school lease aid. In his testimony Elmasry confirmed the substance of Kersten’s reportage about the entanglement between MAS Minnesota and TiZA, and also vividly described the modus operandi of MAS Minnesota officer and TiZA principal Asad Zaman. This is the testimony that Zaman aired at a TiZA parents’ meeting in mid-January, leading to the situation described in Elmasry’s affidavit. Video of Elmasry’s testimony is accessible here beginning at around 51:30 and going until about 90:00.
To repeat, TiZA is a public school. It appears to be operating illegally as an Islamic school on public funds while engaging in threats to protect against the disclosure of evidence regarding its operation. This is a big story in a variety of respects — from the misuse of public funds to the establishment of Islamist outposts and the commission of illicit acts to keep the lid on. Yet apart from Kersten’s column, the story has been greeted with the big silence.
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