Our Powerline pal Scott Johnson alerts me that I failed:
. . . to credit Minnesota with pioneering Muslim public schools via our charter school law. The Minnesota chapter of the ACLU (which really deserves praise) has brought suit here in federal court to blow the whistle on the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, which is the pioneering Muslim charter school in suburban St. Paul. Former Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten blew the whistle on TIZA, and the MCLU followed up on her lead.
Scott alerts us to this Katherine Kerstn report, entitled "Are Taxpayers Footing the Bill for an Islamic Public School in Minnesota?" Some highlights:
There are strong indications that religion plays a central role at TIZA, which is a public school financed by Minnesota taxpayers. Under the U.S. and state constitutions, a public school can accommodate students' religious beliefs but cannot encourage or endorse religion....
TIZA's strong religious connections date from its founding in 2003. Its co-founders ... were both imams, or Muslim religious leaders, as well as leaders of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN). Since then, they have played dual roles: [one] as TIZA's principal and the current vice-president of MAS-MN, and [the other] as TIZA's school board chair and president of MAS-MN until his death in a car accident in Saudi Arabia in January.
TIZA shares MAS-MN's headquarters building, along with a mosque.
MAS-MN came to Minnesotans' attention in 2006, when it issued a "fatwa," warning Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that transporting passengers with alcohol in their baggage is a violation of Islamic law....
"A visitor might well mistake Tarek ibn Ziyad for an Islamic school," reported Minnesota Monthly in 2007. "Head scarves are voluntary, but virtually all the girls wear them." The school has a central carpeted prayer space, and "vaguely religious-sounding language" is used.
According to the Pioneer Press, TIZA's student body prays daily and the school's cafeteria serves halal food (permissible under Islamic law). During Ramadan, all students fast from dawn to dusk, according to a parent quoted in the article.
In fact, TIZA was originally envisioned as a private Islamic school....
TIZA claims to be non-sectarian, as Minnesota law requires charters to be. But "after-school Islamic learning" takes place on weekdays in the same building under MAS-MN's auspices, according to the program for MAS-MN's 2007 convention. At that convention, a TIZA representative at the school's booth told me that students go directly to "Islamic studies" classes at 3:30, when TIZA's day ends. There, they learn "Qur'anic recitation, the Sunnah of the Prophet" and other religious subjects, he said....
Publicly, TIZA emphasizes that it uses standard curricular materials like those found in other public schools. But when addressing Muslim audiences, school officials make the link to Islam clear. At MAS-MN's 2007 convention, for example, the program featured an advertisement for the "Muslim American Society of Minnesota," superimposed on a picture of a mosque. Under the motto "Establishing Islam in Minnesota," it asked: "Did you know that MAS-MN … houses a full-time elementary school"? On the adjacent page was an application for TIZA. ...
Islamic Relief-USA, the school's sponsor, is compared to the Red Cross in several TIZA documents. In 2006, however, the Israeli government announced that Islamic Relief Worldwide, the organization's parent group, "provides support and assistance" to Hamas, designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, MAS-MN offers on its web site "beneficial and enlightening information" about Islam, which includes statements like "Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr."
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."
MORE: Here, in addition, is a WSJ op-ed from last June by Ms. Kersten on why "Charter Schools Shouldn't Promote Islam."