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Oklahoma lawmakers to return Quran copies to Ethnic American Advisory Council

After some strange claims, several Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Quran to a state panel on diversity.

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

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

The Republican expressed his feelings Monday in a letter to colleagues. At least 17 legislators have told 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."

The 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.

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