NPR: Virginia Islamic School’s Expansion Met Protests


Reported by Jamie Tarabay

In Northern Virginia, a private school needed the local county’s approval to expand to serve more students. This would have hardly raised an eyebrow had it not been for one particular detail: The school is Islamic, funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Saudi Academy, located in Fairfax County, has long been under the microscope of its opponents. But for residents along the two-lane country road where the school sits, the debate was transformed from a local land-use issue into a heated discussion about the school, its teachings and the relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States.

For people like Pat Herrity, supervisor of Springfield District, where the school is located, this should only ever have been about traffic.

“I can’t imagine putting another car every six seconds on Popes Head Road,” he says, standing in the ISA’s driveway counting the cars as they drive by. In August last year the county’s Board of Supervisors approved the ISA’s bid to expand its campus and double the number of students who attend, to around 500.

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