Or, to keep things local, someone might ask Allison Moore, an Oklahoma Muslim quoted in recent stories, for elaboration. Why? Ms. Moore works on a newsletter published by the Tulsa Islamic Center. I downloaded the October issue and read an article that compares consorting with lax Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims -- "people of religious innovation and misguidance, those who abandon the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and advocate other beliefs" -- to nothing short of "doom itself" and "taking poison."
The article continues: "A man with any intellect should not sit in their assemblies nor mix with them. The result of doing so will either be the death of his heart, or, at the very best, its falling seriously ill."
This is -- how shall I put it? -- not very inclusive. Obviously, while the media remain stuck on spin - un-inclusive Christian yahoos reject kindly Muslim gift -- there's more to the story. For instance, what's up with the governor's council? According to the 2004 executive order creating it, the group is supposed to include "Ethnic Americans" from Oklahoma's "Middle East/Near East community." Besides Arab-American Muslims, this should include Israeli-American Jews or Lebanese-American Christians, no? No. Euphemistically "Ethnic," the group is solidly Muslim. Bumping around on the Internet, I found uncomfortably few degrees of separation between one of the council members, Malaka Elyazgi, and a Hamas kingpin. (Her husband, Mohamed Elyazgi, was a business partner of Mufid Abdulqader, a defendant in the Holy Land Foundation trial and half-brother to the political chief of Hamas.)
And what's the council all about? Judging by its push for, say, preliminary school recognition of Muslim holidays, or Muslim displays at the Oklahoma History Center, I'd say it's about advancing Islam in Oklahoma. Last I looked, this isn't the role of state organizations. (Imagine the furor over an all-Christian council promoting Christianity from a state office.) And particularly in a state that still counts as part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which includes freedom of conscience -- forbidden under Islamic law.
Ultimately, such freedom of conscience is exactly what Mr. Duncan and colleagues are exercising in declining a Koran. And that's something worth hanging tough for.