Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) was elected to the Oklahoma state House of Representatives in 2011.
In an August 2014 Facebook post, Bennett called on Oklahomans to be “wary” of Muslim-Americans and falsely claimed the Quran says non-Muslims “should be killed.”
In his post, Bennett stated in part: “The Quran clearly states that non Muslims should be killed … Be wary of the individuals who claim to be ‘Muslim American’. Be especially wary if you’re a Christian.”
In response, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) called on state Republican Party leaders to denounce the anti-Muslim comments and asked for an apology from Bennett.
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston instead supported Bennett’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Weston even added his own anti-Muslim remarks saying “Islam has basically existed for the last fourteen hundred years by the sword.” Weston also told state media outlets: “There is so much overwhelming evidence around the world that the fundamental beliefs of Islam authorize anything but peace until they become dominant.”
Bennett then doubled down, telling constituents in Sallisaw, Okla., that Islam’s goal is “the destruction of Western civilization from within,” that the faith is 90 percent “violence” and that Islam “is a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” He added that he is “not going to stand back and let [Muslims] push Islam into our nation.”
Bennett added, “If they are Muslim Americans and they subscribe to Islam then they are just as bad as ISIS.”
This is not Bennett’s first foray into anti-Muslim hate. According to data from a forthcoming study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, in 2013, Bennett twice supported anti-Islam and anti-“foreign law” legislation, as a sponsor (HB 1959) and co-sponsor (HB 1060).
A broad spectrum of Oklahoma voices rejected Bennett and Weston’s remarks, including some members of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Anna Flat, who chairs the Carter County Republican Party, wrote, “These kinds of statements from Representatives and officials are ignorant and unacceptable from a purely liberty perspective…How would you like it if the Christian religion were the minority and your elected representatives were inciting people to “be wary” of you?” Similarly, Tina Kelly, who chairs the Republican Party in Oklahoma’s precinct 32 write, “As an active member of the Oklahoma Republican Party, I am dismayed that you as our chief representative to those outside the party would defend the Islamophobic remarks of anyone, much less an elected official bearing our brand.”