We do not respond to comments in our blog posts. However, given the allegations of Islamic religious education openly practiced in the public charter school, Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, we felt it merited a response. The comment can be found below.
First I would like to respond to the writer’s question regarding the “madrassa issue”. A madrassa is a school that teaches the Arabic language and culture. The Kalil Gibran International Academy’s stated purpose is to teach Arabic language and culture. The purpose of a public school in the United States is to teach the core subjects: American values, civics and the Constitution. History classes cover all cultures. Languages are offered as electives. In the U.S. we have an American culture. Immigrants come here because of the freedom and opportunity our culture and values provide. We are a “melting pot” into which all assimilate to become Americans first. The glory of our culture is that each of us is free to practice our own religion and cultural values privately while being an American without imposing our personal preferences on others. When a public school becomes a vehicle for teaching about one specific culture and language it is no longer a public school that serves the entire community. This is known as a private school. KGIA, TIZ and any other public or charter school teaching Arabic language and culture is,in effect, a madrassa; hence the name of our coalition, “Stop the Madrassa”. If madrassas have the reputation of being hotbeds of radical jihadist instruction then that is a question you must address with those indoctrinating young children to violence and hate.
As for the Muslim American Society’s association with the school, the FBI says MAS, based in Washington, D.C., was founded by members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. In addition the school is sponsored by Islamic Relief, a Muslim charity identified by the U.S. Treasury as an al-Qaida front group. Churches are not advocating for jihad or death to the infidels. Some Mosques and Islamic organizations however are calling for Shari’a law to supercede the United States Constitution. I call your attention to the statement of one of CAIR’s founders and spokesmen, Ibrihim Hooper, “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a 1993 interview. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education. [http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2136]
In response to your statement, “You wouldn’t complain at all if a church held conventions about making a Christian community in Minnesota” I will leave it to Robert Spencer who explains it well-” But [Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy] it has been drawing objections from a number of people, including Robert Spencer, the expert who monitors such developments at Jihad Watch.
“Can you imagine a public school founded by two Christian ministers and housed in the same building as a church? Add to that – in the same building – a prominent chapel. And let’s say the students are required to fast during Lent and attend Bible studies right after school. All with your tax dollars,” he wrote. “Inconceivable? Sure. If such a place existed, the ACLU lawyers would descend on it like locusts. It would be shut down before you could say ‘separation of church and state’ to the accompaniment of New York Times and Washington Post editorials; full of indignant foreboding, warning darkly about the growing influence of the Religious Right in America.” [http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58967]
It was very apparent to Amanda Getz, the teacher that was substituting in TIZA, that Islam was practiced during the school day. “There’s overwhelming evidence the public school’s endorsing the Islamic faith, including:
• Daily scheduled prayer led by an imam.
• Classroom instruction in the Quran.
• Compulsory “after-school” Islamic Studies classes (buses don’t leave the school until after Islamic Studies is over).
• Halal cafeteria food.
• Observance of Islamic holidays.
• Early release for Friday mosque.”
The only explanation for this not being blatantly evident to you when you visited the campuses is that you were given the typical tour given to visitors in which the school is “cleaned-up”. This deception is practiced in order to cover-up what is really going on. Following the writer’s comment is the second article published in the Minnesota Star Tribune, April 9, 2008, regarding the evidence of Islamic religious practice in the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy.
My husband and I are both Muslim and are considering Tarek ibn Ziadas one of the many schools for our daughter to attend in 2009. I’ve been to both campuses and have met with most of the staff. I will be looking into just how the day is structured and what exactly is taught but from my current understanding of the school, all Islamic activities and lessons take place after school hours. If I found that they were not doing this I would be a little upset because taxpayers should not have to pay for schools that teach religion. However I have to wonder what previous reporters and yourself consider to be so Islamic about the school. It’s mentioned in the article that religion plays a central role. I’m not sure how one determines that it plays such a central role in the school! There is nothing upon entering either campus that implies anything about Islam. Both campuses do have a prayer room in them but as you said schools are required to make accommodations for student
religious needs. Both campuses have a high percentage of Muslim students. They need a specific room just for them to pray in. Otherwise, the halls would be filled with praying children. The Blaine location has nothing in it that is inherently associated with Islam except it’s prayer room. The other campus shares a building with MAS-MN. However, MAS operates out of one portion of the building for the most part and the school operates out of the other. The schools do teach Arabic language (the main reason my husband and I are considering them). It’s important to note that the Arabic language does refer to God (Allah) often in every day saying but this does not necessarily imply Islam either. For example Al-hamdulilla (thanks to God), Insha’allah (God willing), and many more sayings use a name of Allah as a part of common expression. This is true for both Muslim and Christian Arabs who both use Allah to say God. I don’t know whether or not the school is slipping in little bit of imposed Islam into anything else but hopefully I will be able to find out as we look into it more. However I’d also like to address the whole “madrassa” issue. You say madrassa like it’s a bad thing! Madrassa is the arabic word for elementary/primary school. It’s the same word they use to refer to our K-6 schools. It doesn’t have anything to do with religion or not. It is true that in Islamic countries the elementary schools will often have religion classes included in their cirriculum but it is not a requirement that schools teach religion to be a madrassa. Why is this concept apparently so misunderstood by the media and general public. Also I’ve never once seen statements such as “Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr.” on MAS-MN’s website. Of course MAS promotes building an Islamic community in Minnesota, you wouldn’t complain at all if a church held conventions about making a Christian community in Minneasota. We
all deserve to build thriving communities that interact with each other for the mutualbenefit of all community members. Who speaks at MAS conventions has nothing to do with the school itself. There are plenty of Christians who think its their God-Given right to beat their wives too. Beating women is a universal issue that affects women Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and every other religion in the world. Even so someone can have bad views about one issue and good views about another. So he spoke of building a community in MN? And so we should all the sudden worry that Minnesota women will all of the sudden be subject to violent attacks by their husbands? Brining together a bunch of unrelated facts and meshing them together into an article doesn’t make for all that good of an article. If your upset about the school focus on the school.