Gov. Brad Henry does not plan to disband his Ethnic American Advisory Council despite a lawmaker’s call for him to either abolish or overhaul the group.

“The council should either be reformed to reflect its apparent mission or preferably disbanded,” said Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, in a prepared statement.

Reynolds and several other law makers refused last week to accept a special copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, which was offered by the Governor’s Ethnic Advisory Council as part of the state’s centennial celebration.

Reynolds said that linking the gift to Oklahoma’s Centennial is inappropriate since “the United States and Oklahoma were founded on Judeo-Christian values and traditions.”

He said the group consists of “Muslim activists” and is not representative of the state’s diversity.

“Islam simply has not played a role in our state’s or country’s history,” he said.

Paul Sund, a spokesman for Henry, said the governor does not plan to disband the council, which “plays an important role for the large community of Middle Eastern immigrants living in Oklahoma.”

“Other boards created for Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans and other groups are equally important because they provide a forum for discussion of issues that are often unique to a particular ethnic community,” Sund said.

Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, the Ethnic Advisory Council’s chairwoman, said the group and other councils provide an important means of communication between minority groups and the government.

Reynolds criticized Seirafi-Pour in his statement, saying that she “rushed to the media and acted outraged” when lawmakers turned down the books.

However, Seirafi-Pour said that she didn’t comment on the matter until she was called by a Tulsa World reporter last week. (MORE)


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