Oklahoma lawmaker John Bennett asks Muslim students if they beat their wives.

Oklahoma Lawmaker Asks Muslim Students “Do You Beat Your Wife?” Before Agreeing to Meeting

Oklahoma Lawmaker Asks Muslim Students “Do You Beat Your Wife?” Before Agreeing to Meeting

The Slatest has moved! You can find new stories here.
The Slatest
Your News Companion
March 5 2017 5:13 PM

Before Agreeing to Meet, Oklahoma Lawmaker Asks Muslims, “Do You Beat Your Wife?”

A screengrab of a video from state Rep. John Bennett's page on the Oklahoma State Legislature's website.


Republican state Rep. John Bennett from Oklahoma is no stranger to uttering Islamophobic statements. But if any of his Muslim constituents want to meet with him, they must first answer several written questions, including, “Do you beat your wife?” That's what a group of students discovered when they went to Bennett’s office last week and were handed the questionnaire.

The questions included:

  • The Koran, the sunna of Mohammed and Sharia Law of all schools say that the husband can beat his wife. Do you beat your wife?
  • 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?
  • Sharia law says that it must rule over the kafirs, the non-Muslims. Do you agree with this?

The students were in the state capitol as part of an annual Muslim Day organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations that seeks to introduce members of the community to their representatives. CAIR was the first to publicize the questionnaire, but Bennett confirmed it and justified his actions in an email to Tulsa World:

"CANT REFUTE FACTS According (to) her testimony in the Hadith (a collection of Muslim sayings and traditions), Muhammad physically struck his favorite wife for leaving the house without his permission.
"According to the Qur'an, Hadith and Islamic law, a woman may indeed have physical harm done to her if the circumstances warrant, with one such allowance being in the case of disobedience. This certainly does not mean that all Muslim men beat their wives, only that Islam permits them to do so.”

Bennett says the questions are based on passages of the Quran and he cited a list of sources for his questionnaire, including the website thereligionofpeace.com. The questionnaire though appeared to have been written by ACT for America, which the Southern Povery Law Center describes as “the largest grass-roots anti-Muslim group in America.” Although it has been far from the mainstream, the group founded in 2007 “appears to have a surprising amount of influence on President Trump’s agenda,” notes the Washington Post.

The executive director of CAIR-Oklahoma, Adam Soltani, who published a video on Facebook recounting the experience, said the questions were “stupid, Islamophobic, hateful, [and] bigoted.” The students never did get a chance to talk to Bennett, a former Marine. “What's most inflammatory is the questions itself, the fact that Muslims have to pass a religious test in order to see a representative of our state, surely he does not do this to Christian constituents or Jewish constituents,” Soltani said.

Not surprisingly, Bennett, who once referred to Islam as “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out” has frequently clashed with CAIR. In October of last year, Bennett even suggested CAIR and a local imam were terrorists.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.