Muslims hoping to meet with a Oklahoma lawmaker during a special event had to first fill out a controversial questionnaire about Islam that included inquiries such as “Do you beat your wife?”
Oklahoma Rep. John Bennett asked his constituents taking part in the state’s third annual Muslim Day on Thursday — in which Muslims have the opportunity to interact with state legislators at the capitol — to fill out the questionnaire.
Adam Soltani, executive director of Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) Oklahoma, told BuzzFeed News that high school students from Tulsa’s Peace Academy visited Bennett’s office to either meet with him or schedule a meeting.
The students were met by a legislative assistant, Soltani said, who gave the students a questionnaire, telling them it must be filled out in writing.
Another question is, “I have heard that, according to accepted Islamic sources, Mohammed, at age of 49, married a 6-year-old girl, and that he had sex with her when he was 52 and she was only 9 years old. Is that really true?”
“I was distraught when [the students] showed me the questionnaire,” Soltani told BuzzFeed News. “I wasn’t completely surprised by it because obviously we have been challenging Bennett’s hate rhetoric for many years.”
Martha Perry, Bennet’s legislative assistant, told BuzzFeed News the lawmaker was not available for comment.
Bennett, a former US Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, made headlines in 2014 when he made anti-Islam comments on social media, later adding that Islam is a “cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.”
He also said there is no difference between moderate and radical Islam.
“How can I be racist against Muslims or Islam when the ethnicity is actual Arab?” he said at the time, adding, “This is kind of confusing.”
Last year, Oklahoma lawmakers approved a proposal Bennett submitted to study the “current threat posted by radical Islam and the effect that Sharia Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist indoctrination have in the radicalization process in Oklahoma and America.”
Soltani said he does not know how many people got the questionnaire because more than 200 people attended Muslim Day at the Capitol, adding that all the other legislators were very supportive and welcoming.
The questionnaire was written up by anti-Islam group ACT for America — the group’s logo and email address are on the sheet of paper.
“The question that comes to mind is, does he do this to others?” Soltani said. “Does he ask question to his Christian constituents? His Jewish constituents? If the answer is no, that’s discrimination. There’s no other way to call it.”
Soltani said there shouldn’t be somebody working for the state of Oklahoma who doesn’t represent all citizens.
“Nobody should be vetted with stupid, Islamophobic, hateful, bigoted questions before they can meet with their representative,” Soltani said in a video posted to Facebook Thursday.