One woman wore a Palestinian flag as a wrap and a man wore a scarf featuring the flag’s colors as Oklahoma Muslims were encouraged to advocate not only for themselves, but others around the world during an event on Monday at the Capitol.

The “Muslim Day at the Capitol” theme of “Local Advocacy for Global Justice” appeared to resonate with attendees as they participated in the 10th annual event sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Oklahoma chapter. Monday’s Muslim Day event was the first held since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, resulting in the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Dr. Amir Khaliq, a retired physician and university professor of public health, said it was important that Muslims speak out in “the reddest of red states” for several reasons, particularly to tell elected leaders that “we are here. We need to be heard. We have to be visible. We are not disappearing. We are not going away and so you have to pay attention.”

He said he wore his Palestinian scarf to the Capitol to convey his freedom of expression and commitment for “justice in Palestine.”

“Everybody talks about Israel’s right to defend itself, but nobody ever talks about the Palestinian people’s right to exist with freedom and liberty and dignity. Who is going to speak for their rights? I’m trying to speak for their rights by wearing this” Khaliq said.

A reflection of the Oklahoma Standard

Adam Soltani, CAIR-OK’s executive director, said Monday’s milestone anniversary was special particularly because there were no protesters waving anti-Islam signage awaiting Oklahoma Muslims when they arrived at the Capitol, but members of the interfaith community were there to offer their “corridor of support” greeting and welcoming Muslims.

The most amazing thing about this year’s Capitol day is after 10 years, protesters have given up — we had absolutely zero protesters, but yet the interfaith community, a diverse group of Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians from all different denominations, have continued to show up to welcome us to the Capitol,” Soltani said.

“This is, to me, not just a testament to the strong interfaith community here in Oklahoma, but I think more importantly, when people speak of the Oklahoma Standard, this is really a reflection of that Oklahoma Standard more than anything else — people coming together to show their love and support for other people and particularly, to uplift the voices of minorities in Oklahoma.”

Highlights of the Muslim advocacy event included a keynote presentation by Georgia Rep. Ruwa Romman. Also, Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, took to the Senate floor to recognize visiting students and teachers from the two Islamic schools in Oklahoma, Mercy School Institute in the Oklahoma City metro area and Peace Academy in Tulsa.

Romman, who represents House District 97 in the Georgia Legislature, encouraged participants to share their stories and their respective points of view with their elected leaders.

Romman, who said she was one of four Muslims in the George Legislature, told participants that they each have a story to tell, and it was important that they share their perspectives with elected leaders and others in their communities. She said it was crucial that they continue long-term advocacy efforts at the Capitol, such as meeting with and building relationships with legislators.

“You’re all here today with that power,” she said. “You have a story that could change hearts.”

Afterward, the legislator said she loved the premise of Oklahoma’s Muslim Day at the Capitol.

“They’re thinking about acting locally while thinking globally because the reality of the situation is that having an impact on a federal level, does in fact take a lot more time, energy and resources,” she said. “But, people are going to be so shocked what a difference they can make on a local level.”

Masa Darkazally, a junior at Peace Academy in Tulsa, said she felt empowered to be an advocate after listening to Romman’s presentation.

“I felt like it was actually quite interesting to see because I never really knew that there were much representatives for the Muslim community, in general, so I was inspired by how she went up to everyone trying to explain a point of view,” Darkazally said.

“That really showed me that I can also do that.”