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More lawmakers reject copy of Quran
by: MICK HINTON and BILL SHERMAN World Staff Writers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sixteen state lawmakers have joined Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, in refusing a gift copy of the Quran.
The holy book of the Muslim religion was offered as a centennial gift by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council, made up of American Muslims from Middle East countries.
Duncan refused, saying, "Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology."
Allison Moore of Tulsa, who converted to the Muslim faith more than a decade ago, said Duncan can count members of her faith among those who don't endorse those things.
"We do not condone suicide bombers any more than the Christians," she said.
Duncan reiterated Tuesday that the council's spokeswoman had stated in an e-mail to elected officials that "the Holy Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad."
Referring to a point he said was emphasized in the Quran, Duncan said it talks about seizing and killing those who turn their back on Islam.
Moore said this portion of the Quran was stating that Muslims should not rely on the Christian and Jewish people to solve their own problems.
Rep. Mike Shelton said Tuesday that he was embarrassed by Duncan's comments. "I had an opportunity to visit Turkey, and Muslims come in all colors and shades," he said. "Al-Qaida is nothing but gang members."
Jim Mishler, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry executive director, said he was disappointed with Duncan's remarks. He said the lawmaker's refusal to accept the Quran reveals "an appalling lack of awareness of religious history."
"Most religious communities have had zealots who have acted violently out of their take on their scriptures, including our own Christian community," he said.
"We need to recognize that, and to affirm that we're never going there again, and to invite Muslims of good will to continue the clarity of their comments that (terrorists) do not represent them," he said.
Mishler said the TMM executive committee will meet as early as Thursday to develop a formal response.
The Rev. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, did not fault the legislators for their action.
"America's laws find their roots in the Holy Bible," he said in a prepared statement. "The freedom to openly practice faith, without discrimination, is one of the beautiful tenets of the American way. Likewise, true freedom provides the right to refuse the generosity of others."
The Rev. Darryl DeBorde, pastor of Braden Park Baptist Church and a board member of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, criticized the legislators.
"The Tulsa Interfaith Alli ance expects all of our elected officials to treat all of their constituents with dignity and respect," he said.
"To purposefully condemn and denounce all Oklahomans who are members of one religious body is just wrong, whether they be Muslim, Baptist or anything else."
In Oklahoma City, Duncan questioned the composition of the council on Tuesday, saying the group's name sounded like it should include all other groups, such as "Italian-Americans, Portuguese- Americans and German-Americans.In Oklaho
Marjan Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council, said members represent different parts of the Muslim world, like representatives from Pakistan, Iran and other countries. They went to the governor in 2004 seeking formation of an advisory group.
Paul Sund, spokesman for Gov. Brad Henry, said the council was formed at the request of some leaders in the Muslim community. He said Asian and Hispanic councils were formed in earlier administrations.