If this were 10 or 15 years ago and a Muslim sought to gift legislators with a copy of the Quran, our guess is most would have accepted and that would have been that. But 9/11 changed everything, as we’ve seen demonstrated vividly in Oklahoma this week.
State Rep. Rex Duncan, a Republican from Sand Springs, made it clear he didn’t want a complimentary copy of a Quran when they’re distributed to lawmakers next month. The books are being given by the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council as part of the state’s centennial. They were paid for by the Muslim community in Oklahoma, which numbers 30,000 to 50,000.
Duncan said he realizes that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but I don’t know of another religion or ideology that employs terrorism and the threat of terrorism.” He said that instead of distributing the Quran, the council should encourage peaceful Muslims to “speak out against terrorism in the name of their religion.”
The chairwoman of the governor’s council, Marjan Seirafi-Pour, has handled things with class as the number of lawmakers saying “no thanks” has grown. Seirafi-Pour, a Muslim, sent e-mails explaining the project to lawmakers and telling them to let her know if they didn’t wish to receive one. “We are not trying to force anything on anyone,” she told the Tulsa World.
All but one of those who have rejected the offer are Republicans. The GOP leaders in the House and Senate plan to accept their copies of the book. Another Republican, Rep. Dan Sullivan of Tulsa, will do the same and even has offered to find a home for one Quran. As for the governor, his spokesman said the book “was offered in a spirit of friendship and respect, and Governor Henry received it in that spirit.”
Only a few years ago, that wouldn’t have been a story.