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Sallisaw Rep. gets slammed for discriminatory remarks against Muslims

Oklahoma House of Representatives
State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw)
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TULSA, Okla. -- State Republican party leaders have been called on to respond to anti-Islamic remarks posted by state Representative John Bennett (R-Sallisaw).

“Be wary of individuals who claim to be Muslim American,” said Bennett, on his personal Facebook page. “Especially if you are Christian.”

Oklahoma’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked that Bennett issue a public apology in regards to his statements.

"Individuals elected to represent the people of Oklahoma should be held accountable for such extremist, inaccurate and intolerant views," said Adam Soltani, Executive Director for CAIR-OK.

Bennett has seen time abroad as a Counterterrorism and Intelligence Specialist in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in 2013 joined with several other Oklahoma lawmakers to form a counterterrorism caucus.

CAIR-OK’s relations with Oklahoma’s counterterrorism caucus have been strained in the past, when in May of 2013 the caucus issued a statement claiming that a visiting Imam from Virginia had “supported terrorist in the past”.

The caucus then sought to used his presence at a CAIR-OK banquet and subsequent delivery of a keynote address as “evidence collected against the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.”

According to the 9/11 Commission Report referenced by the caucus, the Virginia mosque from which the visiting Imam came was a location frequented by a number of the 9/11 hijackers.

Bennett co-chairs the caucus with state Representative Gus Blackwell (R-Laverne), and has gained support from Oklahoma’s current Secretary of Veterans Affairs, retired Major General Rita Aragon.

Currently, Bennett is slated to speak Sept. 4 in Sapulpa at the Creek County chapter of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association on the subject of terrorism.

CAIR-OK has vowed to continue a call for Bennett to recant his comments. Red Dirt Report was unsuccessful in reaching the legislator late Wednesday.

 “Anti-Muslim bigotry and statements that promote misunderstanding and incite hatred toward a minority group have no place in the Oklahoma Republican Party,” said Soltani.

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Mariah Harnish

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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