Lawmaker objects to getting copy of Quran

By The Associated Press Modified: October 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm •  Published: October 23, 2007
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OKLAHOMA CITY - After one Oklahoma lawmaker raised terrorism as an issue, several others joined him in rejecting a gift of the Quran from a council created by Gov. Brad Henry.

"Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology," said Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs.

Duncan expressed his feelings in a letter to his colleagues on Monday. By late Tuesday, 15 legislators had notified the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council that they were returning the gift.

Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairman of the council and a Muslim, said she was "a little disappointed."

Seirafi-Pour said the gift was a way to introduce the council to lawmakers so they can use it as a resource to "serve their offices and constituents." She estimates there are 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims in Oklahoma.

She said no state funds were used in the project.

Seirafi-Pour disagreed with Duncan's assessment of her religion. "I know he referred to Islam as an ideology. That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive.

"We do not wish to have any ill feelings or miscommunications with any other groups or any other religions and especially our elected officials."

"My comment is that we never hear those 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims opposing the practice of violence on innocent people," Duncan said.

Duncan was asked about a double standard since lawmakers received a Centennial copy of the Bible earlier in the year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.