Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/09/2008 (11:36 am)

Public Madrassa

Scott Johnson at Power Line reports that a Madrassa has been operating in the Twin Cities area as a Charter School, meaning that it receives its funding from the public as part of the state’s education system. The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Inver Grove Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, MN, shares a building with the Muslim American Society, and with a mosque. It serves grades K-8 what appears on paper to be a standard, non-sectarian curriculum, but the atmosphere sounds clearly sectarian. The school attracts high demand, largely from the areas Somali residents. Karen Kersten of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:

Journalists whom Zaman has permitted to visit TIZA have described the school’s Islamic atmosphere and practices.

“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.

Minnesota state charter school law bans non-public sectarian schools or religious institutions from incorporating charter schools, so it’s likely that the school itself is illegal. However, they couch their brochures in non-sectarian language, and advertise after-school religious instruction sponsored by “non-profit organizations,” which makes the religious instruction (and the school) legal. From Power Line:

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…  Muslim activists have found a workable seam in the purported separation of church and state in Minnesota.

Personally, I favor state money going to any school that the community wants, including religious schools, impartially. Neutrality toward religion should mean that the state doesn’t ask and doesn’t care, not that the state scrupulously avoids it, which is in fact the opposiste of neutrality. So long as any religion gets identical treatment, there should not be a problem.

In this case, though, the religious school is sponsored by an organization, Islamic-Relief USA, that Israel identifies as a supporter of Hamas. The Muslim American Society that founded the school is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that founded Hamas. Consequently, the school not only skirts Minnesota’s church-state separation laws, but also the nexus between religious liberty and national security.

I asked a couple of days ago whether the states would enforce the law against Muslims attempting to establish their own laws in enclaves within the state. Minnesota appears to be letting this happen. Except for the connection to known terrorist organizations that should have the FBI interested, I think perhaps we should get used to living peacefully beside Muslims. I just want to know when public money is going to support charter schools teaching Christianity.

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April 11, 2008 @ 11:28 am #

[…] messages embedded in an assigned word puzzle. Note also this story from Hot Air regarding the publicly-funded charter Madrassa I mentioned on Wednesday, in which it was discovered that the school had never flown the American […]

April 12, 2008 @ 11:39 pm #

The hatred and harassment that is now being directed at this grade school is as baseless as it is ugly.
I have visited the school several times and know its directors.

There is a long tradition of neighborhood schools that attract a particular demographic subset. In Minnesota and other states there is a category of public schools called “charter” schools that are granted greater regulatory freedom. When traditional public schools are perceived to not provide a supportive setting for certain groups such as new immigrants, charter schools have been able to fill the gap. You can debate whether this amounts to self-segregation, but it’s legal.

This demographic group happens to share a particular religion. It should be no surprise that if the students are predominantly Muslim that the school would have a Muslim “atmosphere.” It is a baseless, unfair and damaging smear to assume that the teachers are pushing or promoting Islam. In fact it’s absurd, since the children come from Muslim families.

If a student (or their parents) wants the student to follow his or her religion’s practices for prayer and diet, I’m sure you’d agree the school should allow that.

But this particular columnist, who has a track record of racist paranoia about Muslims in our midst, choose to distort that to mean the teachers are promoting Islam.

The columnist was able to find one short-term substitute teacher who misunderstood what she was seeing and gave it the worst possible interpretation. (The columnist failed to mention, and her newspaper still has failed to mention in follow-up articles, that the single source of the allegation is also a Republican Party activist with a history of bilious rhetoric about Democrats.)

Her newspaper found the single source to be adequate and ran the story. Because it appeared in a mainstream newspaper, other media picked up on it and presented the allegation as if it were credible. The conservative blogosphere saw its latest grist for xenophobia mania, and it stretched the allegation further. “Jihad!” The Minnesota public was left with the impression that some group was trying to convert Christian schoolchildren to Islam.

You do your own part of the dirty work by repeating the smear that Islamic Relief supports terrorism. That’s your ilk’s favorite way to kick Muslims down just when they’re starting to get organized to ask for fair treatment in the American system.

The final lie you repeat is that “the Muslim American Society” (all of it) “is” (currently) “a front for the Muslim Brotherhood” (as if the two organizations are bonded together, in coordination, affiliates). This slur from Discover The Network (whose name implies that any connection between two individuals or groups should be taken as proof of conspiracy) relies on a 2004 Chicago Tribune article which said that some former Muslim Brotherhood members opted to *leave* the Brotherhood and form the national chapter of MAS in 1994; and that some of those might still be on the national board, or maybe not. That does not constitute being a “front” for their former organization back in the Middle East. Officials at the national MAS say they have no current connection with the Muslim Brotherhood–and you have no evidence to refute that.

You also allow the implication that the MAS chapter in Minnesota is a puppet of MAS national. In fact, it’s an independent entity formed by Minnesotan Muslims who considered affiliating with various other nationwide Muslim organizations but chose to affiliate with MAS because it allowed independence from the national office. MAS local chapters affirm common principles, but they run their own show.

Apparently it’s sufficient for you that all of the above parties are Muslim; thus, all terrorists.

Finally, you suggest that no public school funds go to Christian churches. Wrong: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/article/2008/03/20/public-schools-send-students-church.html

April 13, 2008 @ 8:42 pm #

Daniel Lynx Bernard wrote:

It should be no surprise that if the students are predominantly Muslim that the school would have a Muslim “atmosphere.” It is a baseless, unfair and damaging smear to assume that the teachers are pushing or promoting Islam. In fact it’s absurd, since the children come from Muslim families.

The problem is not, and never was, that the teachers are “pushing” Islam on unwary children. The problem is that religious schools are not eligible for charter school status or public funding in Minnesota — even if the students are willing participants in the religion.

If a student (or their parents) wants the student to follow his or her religion’s practices for prayer and diet, I’m sure you’d agree the school should allow that.

If you read my posts, you already know that I actually favor public funding for sectarian schools — all of them — by way of vouchers.

However, perhaps you recall a few of the literally thousands of instances of public school students being harassed, suspended, or forbidden to do harmless things like pray over their damned lunches in public schools around the country. Kids have been forbidden Bible clubs after hours. The right for a moment of silence for personal (Christian) prayer had to be won in court. Teachers have been disciplined for having a Bible sitting on their damned desk.

The targets of these extreme measures were all Christians. Usually the Christians win when they take these bizarre persecutions to court, but they should not have to take them to court.

So, no, I’m not so very understanding about a public school that lays out prayer rugs for students and makes breaks in the day for them to pray, and very much less understanding about a school that holds mandatory assemblies in which all the students pray to Mecca. I would be glad for them to do that — if the schools would make similar accommodations for Christians. It’s the unevenness of it that triggers the objections.

Finally, you suggest that no public school funds go to Christian churches. Wrong…

As is invariably the case when leftists provide links, the link to which you pointed refutes your case rather supporting it (it’s truly uncanny how often that happens. Leftists simply cannot read).

TIZA provides religious training on the school premises, through alleged third parties. The article you linked to cites Campus Crusade sponsoring economics classes in a church across the street; they scrupulously avoid religious training simply because the kids ride home in publicly-funded buses — and it’s for ten kids, not 70% of the school like at TIZA. So, no, these are not comparable circumstances.

I will research the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Relief connections further, as you seem to think my information is inaccurate on those matters. That will take time, and I’ll let you know what I find.

However, our concern here is not, as you suggest, that we want to “tear Muslims down,” but that we don’t want schools in the US training children to execute violence against the US, and we don’t want state funding for schools to be going toward funding terrorists overseas. Those are not idle concerns; both have been uncovered in various places in the US, so suspicion is warranted.

Finally, you suggest that I think all Muslims are terrorists. That is false; I think nothing of the kind. However, I think that of roughly 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet, about 200 million of them belong to sects that teach violent conquest of apostate or infidel peoples, specifically targeting the US. That’s a lot of people. Moreover, I think that the line between the violent Muslims and the more moderate ones is blurry; there are passages in the Koran that support either approach, and the direction the adherent falls is determined by which passages they emphasize. And finally, I’m very well aware of how Muslims moving into Europe have substituted Sharia for the law of the land in their enclaves, without the approval of the host governments.

Consequently, all Muslims are suspect until we’ve seen demonstrations of their intent, and let’s be candid — failure to fly the American flag in front of the school is not a good start toward calming appropriate suspicions. You don’t actually believe they didn’t know how to fly a flag, do you?

Muslim radicals are murdering infidels all over the globe, in a manner that no Christians or Jews have done in at least 400 years. Nothing would thrill me more than to find out that the Muslims settling in Minnesota, and elsewhere throughout the nation, have nothing whatsoever in common with the Muslims committing violence elsewhere, but rather intend to blend into the community and live in peace with their Christian and non-religious neighbors. However, to ignore the possibility that they might have more ominous intent would not be “tolerant,” it would be criminally negligent.

April 17, 2008 @ 8:20 am #

[…] of my readers objected to my post regarding TIZA (Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy), the charter school in St. Paul, MN that Minneapolis […]

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