Local Muslims Ask For Extra Protection After Lawmaker's Comments

Wednesday, September 17th 2014, 8:16 pm
By: Karl Torp

Local Islamic groups are calling for extra protection, claiming a state representative's comments could encourage hate crimes.

Oklahoma Republican Rep. John Bennett from Sallisaw called the Islamic faith "a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out" to a group of constituents.

On Tuesday, Rep. Bennett had other controversial comments to make to News 9.

“If they are a Muslin American, and they subscribe to Islam, they are just as bad as ISIS,” Rep. Bennett said.

“The only one spreading hatred and inciting people to violence is Representative Bennett himself,” Adam Soltani, executive director for the Counsel on American Islamic Relations of Oklahoma (CAIR), said.

CAIR held a news conference Wednesday alongside several local organizations, like the ACLU, NAACP, Respect Diversity Foundation and a Christian minister.

9/17/2014 Related Story: Group Seeks Protection For OK Muslims After Lawmaker's Controversial Remarks

“Christians stand in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters,” Minister Lori Walake with the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ said.

As a safety precaution, the Senor Imam in Oklahoma, Imad Enchassi, contacted the FBI and alerted other Muslim organizations about the comments made by the Oklahoma lawmaker. That includes the Muslim schools in the state. 

“All of them decided not to let the kids play outside,” Enchassi said about measures taken Wednesday.

Enchassi said he is in contact with the FBI and will be accessing any threats based on what he hears from them.

Rep. Bennett did not return calls to News 9 on Wednesday. The Republican Party of Oklahoma released a statement that said, in part, it was busy getting ready for midterm elections and did not address the comments made by Rep. Bennett.