Religious gesture of understanding turns into usual debate on hate

An ethnic advisory commission set up by the Governor of Oklahoma printed copies of the Quran, the Islamic “bible”, had them embossed with the State Seal and offered to distribute them to the 149 members of that state’s legislature. What was to be a gesture of understanding has turned into a battle of hateful words.

Oklahoma legislator Rex Duncan, a Republican from Sand Springs, rejected the offering and returned his copy of the Quran. Had it just been that, maybe we would not have noticed. But then like many other confused and uneducated Americans, Duncan added a little hate-politicking to the mix.

Duncan sent a nasty letter to his legislative colleagues and about two dozen said they would return the Islamic holy books, too, asserting that Islam is an evil religion that encourages its followers to kill innocent people.

“Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology,” Duncan asserted, adding in an interview with the Associated Press that he has “researched the Quran”, on the Internet, of course, and believes it supports killing. “That’s exactly what it says,” Duncan insisted.

Notorious for spewing anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hatred, Duncan probably is mindful of the fact that Americans are not knowledgeable about Islam, and that makes for a great opportunity to exploit them for political purposes.

Muslims and Arabs in America are under siege by a wave of ignorance-driven hatred. They should know that even the simplest, kindest gesture will be exploited by some to create angry debate rather than understanding.

The American Muslim, 27 October 2007

See  also “Lawmaker objects to getting copy of Quran”, Associated Press, 23 October 2007

And “Okla. lawmakers return Qurans”, Associated Press, 24 October 2007