Watch TiZA executive director Asad Zaman "attack" KSTP cameraman [VIDEO]
Asad Zaman "attacked" the KSTP news crew
This week's feature chronicles the troubled history of TiZA, the controversial charter school blasted by conservative critics as the "Minnesota madrassa."
TiZA began humbly, serving poor Somali immigrants in Inver Grove Heights. It grew into a media darling, and Congressman Keith Ellison enrolled his youngest child at the school, as we detail in our story. But after Katherine Kersten wrote a column in March 2008 accusing TiZA of being an "Islamic school," a wave of legal problems descended upon the academy.
Its officials reacted aggressively to criticism, hiring a PR firm and lobbying the media. Its monitor, Wayne Jennings, wrote a letter to the Star Tribune defending TiZA. Executive Director Asad Zaman traveled to the Strib's offices to demand Kersten be fired, according to a former parent at the school. But that paled in comparison to the school's reaction when KSTP reporter Chris O'Connell made an unwelcome visit in May 2008.
Asad Zaman with his students
O'Connell went to TiZA in May 2008 to follow up on a Department of Education report released about the school.
"Our assignment took us here to Inver Grove Heights to get reactions from school leaders about corrections ordered by the state department of education in regards to religious programs at the school," O'Connell said on the live broadcast that evening.
O'Connell had made "several phone calls" to school leaders but didn't hear back. He went to the school anyway and saw that TiZA officials were talking to reporters from KARE-11. So his cameraman started rolling and they approached the school. A group of students mobbed the camera.
In the footage, one young Muslim student walks up to the reporters, puts a thumb up, and says, "Nice camera."
Then Asad Zaman, the school's executive director, rushed out in a hurry. He grabbed the camera, and "tried to wrestle" it away from the videographer, according to O'Connell.
KSTP called the cops and an ambulance came to check up on the cameraman. Watch the report below:
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