The Oklahoma chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations recently organized an event where Muslim community members, including high school students, could meet their local lawmakers.
It was a praiseworthy effort, considering the uptick in anti-Islam hate crimes across the country. However, the day turned sour when a Republican legislator showed exactly how Islamophobic he can be.
Rep. John Bennett asked high school students from Tulsa’s Peace Academy, who took part in Oklahoma’s third annual Muslim Day and visited the lawmaker’s office to meet with him or schedule a meeting, to completed a questionnaire filled with derogatory anti-Islam queries.
The sheet included nine questions – including “The Koran, the sunna of Mohammed and Sharia Law of all schools say that the husband can beat his wife. Do you beat your wife?"
Another question read, “I have heard that, according to accepted Islamic sources, Mohammed, at age of 49, married a 6-year-old girl, and that he had sex with her when he was 52 and she was only 9 years old. Is that really true?”
Yet another statement inquired, “Mohammed was a killer of pagans, Christians and Jews that did not agree with him. Do you agree with this example?”
The questionnaire was written by a group called ACT for America.
As evident by the group’s email address and logo on the sheet, the organization is considered the largest Islamophobe extremist group in the United States, according to Southern Poverty Law Center. It also has direct ties to the White House, through President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and CIA director Mike Pompeo.
“Nobody should be vetted with stupid, Islamophobic, hateful, bigoted questions before they can meet with their representative,” Adam Soltani, the executive director of CAIR Oklahoma, said in a video posted to Facebook Thursday.
“I was distraught when [the students] showed me the questionnaire,” Soltani told BuzzFeed News. “I wasn’t completely surprised by it because obviously we have been challenging Bennett’s hate rhetoric for many years.”
After hearing the news, the Oklahoma Democratic Party called Bennett “an embarrassment.”
“Why do Republicans continue to turn a blind eye and ignore Bennett’s hateful fear-mongering actions?” the statement reads. “It is time for our state leaders to stand up against bigotry! Bennett’s continued unprofessional leadership is its own ‘cancer’ on the Oklahoma Legislature, and it is time for the Republicans to make it clear that they do not support Bennett and his hate.”
Some social media users are demanding Bennett resign from his position after his latest hate-filled act.
Rep. John Bennett is often outrageous, but his mistreatment of Muslim constituents is grounds for resignation.— Mel (@Mrs_McGaughy) March 4, 2017
John Bennett, this is unacceptable and Un-American. You can call him to tell him yourself, if you like: (405) 557-7315 https://t.co/bo0i4vz3Tc— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) March 4, 2017
Bennett’s office could not be reached, but in an email to Tulsa World, the Republican confirmed the story, stating the questions “were based on passages from the Quran and other Islamic texts.”
But this isn’t the first time the lawmaker —a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — has shown his hatred towards Islam.
In 2014, the Republican made headlines over his anti-Islamic comments on social media that states the religion is a “cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.”
“How can I be racist against Muslims or Islam when the ethnicity is actual Arab?” he said at the time, adding, “This is kind of confusing.”
He also proposed a plan — which was approved by Oklahoma lawmakers — to study the “current threat posted by radical Islam and the effect that Sharia Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist indoctrination have in the radicalization process in Oklahoma and America.”