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April 09, 2008

Separation of Church and State: Critical, Vital to the Republic
Separation of Mosque and State? Um... That Can Be Finessed

Welcome to Minnesota's very own taxpayer-funded compulsory prayer Madrassa.

Recently, I wrote about Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights. Charter schools are public schools and by law must not endorse or promote religion.

Evidence suggests, however, that TIZA is an Islamic school, funded by Minnesota taxpayers.

TIZA has many characteristics that suggest a religious school. It shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, whose mission is "establishing Islam in Minnesota." The building also houses a mosque. TIZA's executive director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim imam, or religious leader, and its sponsor is an organization called Islamic Relief.

Students pray daily, the cafeteria serves halal food - permissible under Islamic law -- and "Islamic Studies" is offered at the end of the school day.

Zaman maintains that TIZA is not a religious school. He declined, however, to allow me to visit the school to see for myself, "due to the hectic schedule for statewide testing." But after I e-mailed him that the Minnesota Department of Education had told me that testing would not begin for several weeks, Zaman did not respond -- even to urgent calls and e-mails seeking comment before my first column on TIZA.

Now, however, an eyewitness has stepped forward. Amanda Getz of Bloomington is a substitute teacher.

...

"The prayer I saw was not voluntary," Getz said. "The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred."

Read the whole thing.

Captain Ed has a good piece explaining the difference between voucher systems which permit taxpayer-refunded money to be used for parochial education, and an explicitly religious school directly funded by the state itself.

If the former, which isn't really "state" funding of religious education, gets the left's panties in such an awful bunch, how can it be that the latter, which is in fact a clear comingling of mosque and state, causes them no upset whatsoever?

Perhaps it's that they're not so much against the state sponsorship of religion, but state sponsorship of one particular religion and only that religion.

Thanks to Alice H.


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posted by Ace at 01:47 PM

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