RNA - Remarks by one state legislator spurred a state hearing this week to determine what threat "radical Islam" plays in Oklahoma.
Rep. John Bennett, a Republican from Sallisaw County who serves in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, accused a local imam and the state chapter leader of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) this week of being terrorists. The state has since decided to host a meeting to determine the threat that the Muslim population plays to state security.
Islamic cultural representatives are outraged. They say Representative Bennett’s accusation is an example of the scapegoating endured frequently by the Muslim-American community in the United States.
"It is important to realize that American Muslims are being singled out," says Karam Dana, the Director of the American Muslim Research Institute and a professor at the University of Washington, Bothell. "It is very unfortunate. We know what happened in Germany in the 1930s."
Only three lawmakers attended Bennett’s study to discuss his accusations, although he called upon a number of speakers to support his claims, including John Guandolo, founder of UnderstandingTheThreat.com. Mr. Guandolo also labeled the executive director of Oklahoma's CAIR chapter, Adam Soltani, a terrorist.
Chris Gaubatz, a security consultant with Guandolo's website, told attendees that CAIR’s real mission is to establish an Islamic state in the United States and destroy Western civilization. Mr. Gaubatz said that CAIR is no different from al-Qaida.
For its part, CAIR says its mission is "to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."
The group monitors legislation and advocates for members of the Muslim community who become victims of hate crimes.