The head of a Minnesota-based messianic Jewish ministry is pleased that a publicly funded Twin Cities charter school will no longer be able to promote Islam.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy more than two years ago, claiming the Islamic school was in violation of the Establishment Clause because it was promoting Islam. (See earlier story) The suit cited various incidents in which public funds or the school's operations were used to further Islam or Muslim religious organizations.
But under a recent settlement agreement, the Minnesota Department of Education has agreed to require every charter school to provide annual written assurances that they are operating in a non-sectarian manner and providing equal treatment and equal access for all religions.
"Things were so obvious because the Islamic school had daily prayer breaks. They served a special kind of a meal. The buses wouldn't leave until the students had completed after-school religious classes," reports Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries.
"And obviously, the school's insistence on holding Friday prayer services on the premises led everyone in this area to believe that this was an Islamic institution. So we all hope that this is kind of the end of a story that was pretty distressing to all of us, particularly those who lived in the vicinity of the school."
And with so many people watching the case, Markell believes the academy will probably be compelled to comply with the settlement agreement.