Muslim students asked 'Do you beat your wife?' by Oklahoma lawmaker



March 5 (Reuters) - Muslim students visiting an Oklahoma lawmaker's office in the state capitol were required to fill out a form that asked if they beat their wives and other questions that offended them, an Islamic advocacy group said.

The two-page form from Republican state Representative John Bennett's office, which was shared by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also asked whether they believed an adherent to Islam should be punished for leaving the faith and if Muslims should rule over non-Muslims.

A staff member at Bennett's handed the form to Muslim students who visited his office on Thursday seeking to meet with him, said Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR. It was presented as a requirement before they could meet Bennett, Soltani said.

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The students were at the capitol in Oklahoma City for an annual Muslim Day event organized by CAIR to introduce members of the community to their state lawmakers and encourage democratic engagement, Soltani said by phone on Saturday.

Bennett confirmed to the Tulsa World newspaper in an email that three Muslim students visiting his office on Thursday as part of Muslim Day activities at the state capitol were handed tracts that, among other things, asked "Do you beat your wife?"

The lawmaker said that Islamic law and the Koran permit Muslims to beat their wives, though "this certainly does not mean that all Muslim men beat their wives," he wrote in the email, according to the newspaper.

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STERLING, VA - JUNE 1:Tasneem Moiz, 8-months, plays in the beard of her maternal grandfather, Khalid Iqbal, at the home of Iqbal's daughter, Sadaf Iqbal, on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Ibrahim Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs.(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, 2nd from L, reads to his middle daughter, Maryam, 2, as his other daughters, Tasneem, 8mo, and Asiyah, 4, entertain themselves at Moiz's home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and his wife Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, C, leads his two older daughters, Maryam, 2, L, and Asiyah, 4, to their bedroom near bedtime at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - JUNE 1: Sadaf Iqbal, R, receives her daughter, Maryam, 2, with open arms at the family's home on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Behind them is a wallhanging that bears a famous quote from the Qur'an called the 'Verse of the Throne' done by a Chinese Muslim master calligrapher named Haji Noor Deen. Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, and her husband, Ibraham Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, R, gives his daughter, Asiyah, 4, a high-five for using proper manners at the snack table as Moiz's wife, Sadaf Iqbal, L, works on the computer at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Bennett and the state Republican party did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The students who visited the office of the former U.S. Marine were told he was away and they never did talk to the lawmaker, Soltani said.

"What's most inflammatory is the questions itself, the fact that Muslims have to pass a religious test in order to see a representative of our state, surely he does not do this to Christian constituents or Jewish constituents," Soltani said.

This is not the first time Bennett has faced criticism for his statements against Islam.

In a speech in 2014, the lawmaker said he had read the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad's sayings and that "90 percent of it is violence."

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Egyptian-American community activist Rana Abdelhamid (L) demonstrates a move during a self-defense workshop designed for Muslim women in Washington, DC, March 4, 2016 in this handout photo provided by Rawan Elbaba. Picture taken March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rawan Elbaba/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Young Muslims protest U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before being escorted out during a campaign rally in the Kansas Republican Caucus at the Century II Convention and Entertainment Center in Wichita, Kansas March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Muslim man prays while people shout slogans against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outside of his office in Manhattan, New York, December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Janice Tufte of Seattle, a Muslim, participates in a pro-refugee protest organized by Americans for Refugees and Immigrants in Seattle, Washington November 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - MARCH 09: A poster, reads 'Muslims! They invented coffee, the toothbrush, and algebra... Oh wait, sorry about the algebra. That's a year of class you'll never get back', is being displayed at a subway station under 77th Street, New York, NY, USA on March 09, 2016. Varied posters giving right information about Muslims and inform people against Islamophobia, prepared by Muslim comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, are being displayed at 144 subway stations of subway system in New York City within a project with 20,000 US Dollars cost. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/18: Bay Ridge residents march along Ft Hamilton Parkway in support of the Muslim community. Hundreds of Brooklyn residents gathered in Bay Ridge at the site of an alleged bias attack for a march entitled 'Muslims Our Neighbors' in support of Bay Ridge's Islamic community. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/12/20: Several hundred demonstrators rallied outside of Trump Tower at East 56th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to condemn Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump's position on immigration rights; after rallying for nearly two hours, demonstrators marched to Herald Square. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A group of Muslims pray before a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump proposed a call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10, 2015: Fire and hazmat crews arrive on the scene to investigate a suspicious letter delivered to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on December 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. CAIR is the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, with offices two blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/12/09: Hand-lettered Love Your Muslim Neighbor sign held aloft. City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito led an interfaith rally of political leaders and clergy on the steps of city hall to denounce Republican candidate Donald Trump's call to ban Muslim entry into the US. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, Dec. 6, 2015-- Local Muslim residents attend a gathering to mourn victims who were killed in the recent deadly shooting incident in Islamic Community Center in Loma Linda, San Bernardino, California, United States, Dec. 6, 2015. (Xinhua/Yang Lei via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC DECEMBER 2: Ibrahim Hashi, a Muslim veteran of the United States military, is pictured in his American University dorm room, where a Marine Corp flag hangs on his living room wall, on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, in Washington, DC. Since leaving the Marines as a corporal in 2011, Hashi has heard more anti-Muslim rhetoric than ever. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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He acknowledged facing rebukes over his positions on the religion and being called an Islamophobe.

"If I'm an Islamophobe speaking the truth about Islam then you're absolutely right," he said at the speech, according to video from the Tulsa World newspaper.

The heading on the questionnaire said it was from an Oklahoma chapter of ACT for America, a national organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the United States.

A representative for the Oklahoma chapter of the group did not return an email seeking comment. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Mary Milliken)


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