Politician refuses to meet with Muslim constituents before asking them: ‘Do you beat your wife?’

Justin Juozapavicius
File photo of Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett, from April 2013: AP

A local representative in Oklahoma who once called Islam a “cancer” has issued a series of questions – including “Do you beat your wife?” – for Muslim constituents hoping to meet him.

Republican State Rep. John Bennett’s office distributed the questionnaire as Cair-OK, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, ran its third annual Muslim day at the Capitol building in Oklahoma City last week. Mr Bennett’s office presented the list of questions to three Muslim school students who sought to speak to him at his office.

One of the 18 questions in the form is reported to have read: “(The prophet) Mohammed was a killer of pagans, Christians and Jews that did not agree with him... do you agree with his example?”

The form invites Muslims to clarify whether they would denounce groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and whether they believed former Muslims should be punished for relinquishing their faith. They were also asked whether they believed the application of Sharia law should extend to non-Muslims.

The questionnaire drew a swift rebuke from civil rights groups including Cair – the US’s largest Muslim rights group which has a 40,000-strong membership in Oklahoma.

“Nobody should be vetted with stupid, Islamophobic, hateful, bigoted questions before they can meet with their representative,” said Adam Soltani, the executive director of Cair-OK.

Mr Bennett did not return a message courting his response to the questionnaire on Saturday.

In 2014, he made the headlines after referring to Islam as “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out”.

More recently, Mr Bennett came under fire when he posted a news story on Facebook critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and added the comment “2 words... firing squad”.

He has also referred to Cair as a “terrorist” organisation.

“It’s frustrating that Representative Bennett keeps pressing the issue in the way he does,” said Anna Facci, government affairs director for Cair-OK, “but it’s not surprising.”

Associated Press

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