US school threatened for teaching Islam

A US elementary charter school is being flooded with hate mail carry such threats as burning it down and "destroying" its students and administrators on claims of using public funds to teach Islam.

US school threatened for teaching Islam

A US elementary charter school is being flooded with hate mail carry such threats as burning it down and "destroying" its students and administrators on claims of using public funds to teach Islam, according to Islamonline report.

"These vile and vicious attacks on us have resulted in death threats against my students, myself and my family," Asad Zaman, executive director of the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday, April 17.

The threats followed accusations by a local columnist that the academy, a suburban Minneapolis charter school, is teaching Islam in violation of a ban on teaching religion in public schools.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten also accused the school of preventing the assimilation of the area's growing Muslim population.

"If you have a very large immigrant Muslim population being educated at taxpayer expenses in a separate system where Arabic is mandatory and there's an emphasis on the culture of the so-called Eastern world, it seems to me you are setting up a very problematic situation."

The controversy came to head in recent days when a substitute teacher said she saw students "corralled" into involuntary prayer services.

A local television station has also criticized the school for failing to fly a US flag.

Run by the Islamic Relief USA charity, the academy specializes in teaching the Arabic language and culture in addition to standard public grade school subjects.

The majority of the students are Muslims.

Abiding

The Minnesota Department of Education said it goes to "great lengths" to ensure that charter schools understand they must be "non-sectarian" in nature while also accommodating the religious beliefs of students.

"We take seriously the concerns raised regarding Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy and are conducting an appropriate review," Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said in a statement.

Charter schools, public schools run by private organizations with public funds, are bound to US rules that public schools must accommodate the religious needs of their students but must not promote religious views or lead prayer services.

The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy principals say they are careful to follow state guidelines.

Zaman, the academy's executive director, scoffs at the idea that the school is secretly Islamic or that students are forced to attend prayer services.

"We do not teach religion. We do not favor any religion," he told AFP.

He said the academy, which has a long waiting list and has recently expanded to a second campus, is inspected regularly by the state Department of Education and has hosted a number of reporters and high-profile politicians.

"We specialize in dramatic turnarounds. More than 90 percent of our students are in poverty and we outperform schools in the (wealthy) suburbs."

Last Mod: 17 Nisan 2008, 14:24
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