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Concerning the Interim Study on Islam: An Open Letter

Oklahomans gather at the State Capitol to show support for the Muslim community. Photo by Nolen Jacobs
A diverse group of over 70 citizens gathered at the State Capitol on October 27 to show support for Muslim dignity and rights in Oklahoma.. Photo by Noel Jacobs

To Governor Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma State Legislature, and the Good People of Oklahoma:

We represent interfaith and intercultural communities of Oklahoma, and want you to know more about us. Together we have logged several thousand hours of community service work providing food, supporting shelters, providing free health screenings and planting gardens to make our state a better place for all Oklahomans.  We educate the public through co-sponsored events.  We worship in our own ways, and we join together with all who seek peace and understanding.

On October 25, our state Capitol hosted a hearing for the results of a state taxpayer funded Interim Study on Islam in Oklahoma, sponsored by Rep. John Bennett. The hearing did not allow the voices of the interfaith community that works alongside Muslims in Oklahoma.  As Muslim community residents are our partners in community work, we can speak for community-minded commitments.

The Shifa Clinic and food pantry they host in Oklahoma City are just two examples of their loving, voluntary service to any Oklahomans in need, based on the tenets of their faith. Their regular participation in interfaith community service is another example of their selfless service.  Additionally, Muslim Oklahomans contribute significantly to every area of our civic life through their daily work in areas such as medicine, law, education, science, the performing arts, and their contributions to the economy itself.

Regarding the hearing and comments about the interfaith community, we appreciate the public mention of our regular work with our Muslim neighbors, who are Oklahomans through and through.

They, and all of our beautiful, diverse community members, represent the tremendous potential of living in harmony and relationship with those different from us as we learn about and celebrate those differences.

We expect our legislators to represent us all, to openly affirm the rights afforded by our Constitution, and to work for the collective well-being of all Oklahomans.  We welcome our Governor, Legislators, and all the good people of Oklahoma to come and personally learn what we are about and how our Muslim friends are making a positive difference in our lives and throughout Oklahoma.

Rumi, the great Sufi Muslim poet, wrote “In real existence, there is only unity.”  We are enjoying this unity in the great state of Oklahoma, and extend an open and permanent invitation to you to join us.

We politely request time to sit down and speak with you personally, and will cordially invite you to our next community service events.


Mike Korenblit, President and Joan Korenblit, Chief Executive Officer
The Respect Diversity Foundation, Edmond

Noel Jacobs, PhD, Program Director
The Respect Diversity Foundation, Edmond

Carl Rubenstein, MD, President
The Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

Moises Echeverria, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer
The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, Tulsa

Nancy McDonald, Tulsa

Sheryl Siddiqui, Chair and Spokesperson
Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Tulsa

Allison Moore, Tulsa

Rev. Chris Moore, Senior Minister
Fellowship Congregational UCC, Tulsa

Gary Peluso-Verdend, PhD, President
Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa

Rev. Kevin Howe, Community Pastor
Harvard Avenue Christian Church, Tulsa

Rabbi Vered Harris
Temple B’Nai Israel, Oklahoma City

Lori Blumenthal, President
The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City

L.S. Multani, President
Sikh Gurdwara of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

The Very Rev. Justin Lindstrom
Dean of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Oklahoma City

Sinead Maguina, President
United Nations  Association of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City

Rev Bob Lawrence, Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance of Tulsa, Tulsa

Rev Kris Ladusau
RK Dharma Center of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

Vivek Bhaktaram, Seceretary
Board of directors, Hindu Temple, Oklahoma City

(L-R) Top row: Rev Bob Lawrence, Mike Korenblit, Moises Echeverria and The Very Rev. Justin Lindstrom. Second row: Rev. Chris Moore, Rev Kris Ladusau, Rev. Kevin Howe, and Sheryl Siddiqui. Third row: Sinead Maguina, Rabbi Vered Harris, Gary Peluso-Verdend, and Dr. Carl Rubenstein. Photos provided.

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