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Muslim Public School Blurring Line Between School and Religion

A public charter school in Inver Grove Heights is coming under heavy scrutiny for promoting religion at a public school, reported the Star Tribune on Wednesday.

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), is a K-8 charter school that shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. It is illegal for public schools to promote or endorse religion, but there practices occurring at TIZA that suggests that is exactly whats going on, according to the Star Tribune.

TIZA's director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim religious leader. A class called Islamic Studies is offered at the end of the day and the cafeteria only serves Islamic food.

Children are also forced to pray at assemblies, according Amanda Getz, a substitute teacher who taught at TIZA on March 14.

"Teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day," who Getz said was preparing to lead prayer. "The prayer I saw was not voluntary. The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred." (Star Tribune)

Getz also said that there seemed to be no difference between the supposed after school activity of Islamic studies and any other class. She cited that the buses don't leave until after Islamic Studies, and that there were no other extra-curricular activities offered.

"I got the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other," Getz said. (Star Tribune)

By law, schools cannot favor one religion by promoting after-school religious instruction for only one group.

TIZA has been using tax dollars since 2003 and took in almost $3 million in government grants last year, according to the Assyrian International News Agency.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) has launched an investigation of TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education has also begun a review, according to the Star Tribune. The question is what took them so long?