Marjan Seirafi-Pour and state Rep. Rex Duncan can agree on one thing.

Both were astounded by the state, national and international attention given to the lawmaker’s refusal nearly two weeks ago to accept a centennial copy of the Quran, the holy book of the Islamic faith.

The Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council, whose members are Muslim, offered copies of the Quran to 149 state lawmakers, and 35 declined, said Seriafi-Pour, a Norman resident and the council’s chairwoman. Most of those who declined, including Duncan, are Republicans.

The Oklahoma Baptist Convention gave centennial copies of the Bible to legislators last spring; no lawmaker refused those.

Duncan caused a flurry of reactions by saying in his refusal: “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of theology.”

Allison Moore of Tulsa, who is Muslim, said the Quran had been taken out of context. Muslims argue that some parts of the Bible’s Old Testament dwell on violence and wars.

Duncan said he received probably 1,100 e-mails about his refusal of the Quran and 90 percent of them were supportive. Among the writers were residents of Australia and Japan. Several others live on the U.S. coasts.

Duncan, a Sand Springs resident, said he thought his comments gave voice to what others — particularly several in New York City — want to say. He was invited to move to their states and run for public office there, he said. He heard from national media outlets, including Fox News Channel, he said.

The story was also broadcast on the al-Jazeera network, which serves the Arab world, Duncan said.

Seirafi-Pour received e-mails from about 50 lawmakers, mostly from those who declined. She also received 150 to 200 more e-mails of support, many from constituents of those lawmakers.

The Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council was formed in 2004 by Gov. Brad Henry through an executive order. The order says the group’s purpose includes working with the governor “to assist other public and private organizations with understanding problems concerning the Ethnic American community.”

Henry has supported the council and accepted a copy of the Quran.

“Oklahoma has a vibrant community of immigrants from the Middle East and other countries, many of whom are Muslim,” he said in a statement. (MORE)


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