The battle over the role of Islam in a Minnesota public school is heating up again in a federal courtroom in St. Paul. The conflict began in January 2009, when the ACLU of Minnesota sued Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy -- a K-8 charter school with campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine -- for violating constitutional prohibitions against government endorsement of religion.
TiZA since has fought tooth and nail -- erecting procedural barriers to prevent the ACLU from investigating what goes on behind its doors. The school's tactics have gone far beyond the usual rough-and-tumble of lawyers in our adversary system. Its chief tool has been attempted intimidation of all who would draw back the curtain on its secrets.
One of TiZA's first targets was the ACLU itself. A few months after the suit began, the school filed a $100,000-plus defamation claim, citing ACLU executive director Chuck Samuelson's simple statement that "[TiZA is] a theocratic school ... as plain as the substantial nose on my face." The court dismissed the claim.