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Okla. lawmakers return gift of Qurans

Oklahoma City_Several Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Quran to a state panel on diversity after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people.

The books were given to Oklahoma's 149 senators and representatives by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.

"Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology," Duncan said.

Duncan, a Republican, expressed his feelings Monday in a letter to colleagues. At least 17 legislators have notified the panel they will return the gift.

Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council and a Muslim, denounced Duncan's assessment of Islam.

"I know he referred to Islam as an ideology. That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive," Seirafi-Pour said.

In Washington, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Duncan's statement is "disturbing" and "offensive" to Muslims.

"It just points to the amount of education about Islam and the American Muslim community that is needed in all levels in our society, including elected officials," Hooper said.

Seirafi-Pour said the gift was a way to introduce the council to lawmakers so they can use it as a resource to "serve their offices and constituents." Oklahoma lawmakers also received a copy of the Bible earlier this year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

"It's one of the nicest things I've received in my three years in the Legislature," Duncan said of the Bible.

Seirafi-Pour estimated between 30,000 and 50,000 Muslims live in Oklahoma. No state funds were used to purchase the books, she said.

Ron Jenkins, AP Writer © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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