Muslims in Oklahoma will gather at the state Capitol this month in an effort to build ties between the Muslim community and elected officials. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Oklahoma chapter is holding the Oklahoma City event on Feb. 27. It will be similar to one held at the Texas Capitol at the end of January; at that event, participants were heckled by anti-Muslim protesters.
Oklahoma's Muslim Day will include workshops and panels on teaching and training Muslim Oklahomans to better represent and advocate for their community. Muslims are a tiny minority within Oklahoma's population, about 32,000 out of 3.85 million. Attendees are expected to meet with Emily Virgin, a Democrat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and Mike Shelton, another Democrat in the House, along with other elected officials to discuss issues concerning the Muslim community.
Participants must register for the meetings and workshops, which will cover such topics as racial profiling and its impact on Oklahoma, and teaching religion in public schools. More than 100 people are expected to attend, Adam Soltani, CAIR Oklahoma's executive director, told the Associated Press. CAIR Oklahoma described the event as "vital to the success of our community."
Oklahoma is not known for its tolerance toward Islam. In 2010, voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning Shariah law over fears that Islamic law was affecting judicial decisions. A federal judge in Oklahoma struck down the amendment in 2013 as unconstitutional.
Texas held a similar event at its Capitol at the end of January that ended in protesters' heckling participants and speakers. Hundreds of Muslims from Texas attended the Austin rally, which aimed to encourage the community's participation in the democractic process and was run by the Houston chapter of CAIR. As speakers tried to discuss tuition for undocumented students and body cameras for police officers, about two dozen protesters yelled and held up banners decrying Islam.