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Rep. Paul Wesselhöft questions Islamophobia

Paul Wesselhöft October 5th, 2011

Sheryl Siddiqui’s Commentary (“The post-9/11 Muslim experience,” Sept. 21, Oklahoma Gazette) is certainly helpful in some respects, but it is disingenuous in others.

We agree with her that many Muslims abhor the killings of 9/11. However, instead of keeping her cause positive, she had to demonstrate how many more Muslims have been killed in our war on terror; and then she accuses Oklahomans and especially her lawmakers of being Islamophobic and “ill-informed” and “brainwashed” and believing in “distortions.”

I know our lawmakers; these aspersions are unfair. What she conveniently did not address is why is it so important for Muslims to build a mosque so close to sacred Ground Zero and do so without initially consulting with the surviving families; nor did she explain why (on film) so many Muslims in the Arab world cheered, danced and clapped their hands in victory as the flaming towers fell and killed innocent American civilians. Will broaching this subject and asking these questions, as I work through my grief and anger, cast me as an Islamophobe?

—Paul Wesselhöft

Rep. Wesselhöft, a Moore Republican, represents District 54 in the state House of Representatives.

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10.06.2011 at 07:16 Reply

Lawmaker’s are;

“Ill-informed” because it’s about as likely that they have read the Quran as it is that Muslims have read the Bible.

“Brainwashed” because they presume that because those who attack us tend to be Muslim that everything they hear which is negative about Muslims is true.  It is in our nature to believe the worst of those we perceive as enemies.

Believing in “distortions” for the very same reason they are brainwashed.  The perception that Muslims are evil reinforces the desire to accept all negative information one hears.  A really good example of a distortion is what Michael Hoehn talks about in ‘Information or Islamophobia’ (  In that article Hoehn  indicates that during the recent Egyptian revolt “that the morality police were patrolling the streets of Cairo, checking young women, doing virginity checks on them.”  I contacted a young Muslim female friend in Egypt who flat out denied that was happening.  But people here latch onto these comments and take them as truth, that’s one example of the “distortions.”

That “Ground Zero Mosque” really has you worked up doesn’t it?  You do realize it’s not going to be built ON Ground Zero right?  You do realize that Muslims were victims in 9/11 right?  You do realize that because of the actions of a few, Muslims on the whole continue to be victims right?  So a dozen terrorists kill 3,000 Americans and our response is to occupy 2 countries in which the mastermind wasn’t found living in?  Our response was to kill more than 100,000 (one source,, has estimates 9 times higher) Muslims?  Most of which are collateral damage (how offensive is that) in a war they didn’t initiate.  Our response has caused the death of approximately 10,000 of our soldiers, and wounding of more than 35,000.  In the process we’ve made outstanding progress in bankrupting our country economically while presenting ourselves as morally bankrupt to the entire world. 


It’s amazing how “turn the other cheek” (New Testament) got ignored in lieu of “eye for an eye” (Old Testament).  Gandhi said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”  Based on your position, I dare say you are not only blind, you are deaf as well.

It’s also worth noting that if a Christian terrorist(s) had attacked us you wouldn’t bat an eye about a Church being erected at Ground Zero.  There’s your hypocrisy, there’s your Islamophobia.

I could address your reference to “cheering” Muslims on film, but by this point you aren’t going to read it, understand it, or care about it, especially given the tone coming from your party as of late.  But don’t worry; I have a feeling if you keep splitting our country into two classes you’ll figure out what motivates one to revel in the suffering of those whom lead such a comparatively opulent lifestyle.

By the way, I am a former Christian and current Deist.  Former because most of those whom profess to be Christian such as yourself can’t seem to live the life Jesus taught you to live.  You’re simply not happy unless you’re better than someone else both spiritually and financially.  That’s an outstanding job of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”  But that doesn’t surprise me, you don’t even want to help the poor in your own country.  How very Christian.


10.06.2011 at 02:20 Reply

Dear Representative Wesselhöft,



I agree that Ms. Siddiqui's Commentary lacked a clear point, needlessly alluded to the War on Terror, and was in general an essay more about feelings than facts.  However, I did not vote for Ms. Siddiqui, nor do my tax dollars pay her salary.  It is saddening to see an elected official, namely yourself, engage in the same kind of appeals to emotion over reason.  


To clarify, the three main rebuttals you offer to Siddiqui's column are (1) accusations of Islamophobia are unfair, (2) Muslims building a mosque near Ground Zero demonstrates a need for suspicion towards Oklahoma Muslims, and (3) Muslims in the Arab world cheering the attacks on 9/11 shows a need for suspicion towards all Muslims.  Of the first argument, I am willing to take you at your word that Oklahoma's lawmakers draft their laws with complete objectivity, in a spirit of honoring the common good and their constitutional duties.  


But the idea that the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" reflects in any way on Muslims in Oklahoma, or indeed on American Muslims as a whole, is absurd.  In the first place, the mosque was not sponsored by the New York Muslim community, which wasn't even aware of Faisal Rauf until after he announced the project.  Secondly, there was a deep divergence in opinion among American Muslims as to the mosque, including right here in Oklahoma.  Many were against building the mosque, and many advised Rauf and the Park51 backers to engage in meaningful dialogue with the New York community as a whole.  The American Muslim Association of Oklahoma, for example, directly called on Rauf and all supporters of the mosque to move the project elsewhere, an event that was widely covered in local and national media.  Rep. Wesselhöft, you must surely be aware that Muslims do not think and act as one unit.  Muslims in Oklahoma don't have control over Muslims in New York, and to hold all Muslims culpable for Rauf's incompetence and intentions is unfair.  


You then allude to Muslims in the Arab world applauding the 9/11 attacks.  Please be aware, Rep. Wesselhöft, that even if you gathered every video recording of every Muslim celebrating 9/11, and counted up every participant, you would reach a finite number: let's say 10,000 to be generous.  Simply because videos of these criminals and losers were played constantly in the media following the terrorist attacks, does this mean that all Muslims must have been celebrating 9/11?  Not in the least.  A brief scan of print and digital media yields over 3 million results for condemnations of terrorism in general and 9/11 in specific by Muslims, American or otherwise.  This number includes press releases, interviews, statements, etc., including those made by your own constituents here in Oklahoma.  And again I must ask you: why are American Muslims responsible for idiots who decided it would be a good thing to cheer 9/11?  You must surely know that Oklahoma Muslims, like all American Muslims, are predominantly not of Arab origin, and even if they were, the overwhelming majority are law-abiding citizens who pay taxes, contribute positively to society, and vote to re-elect you and your fellow lawmakers.  


Oklahoma's Muslim population is comprised of professionals - physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs and scientists - who do much good for the state.  To equate them with terrorists or supporters of terrorism, or to hold them responsible for such actions, demeans their contribution to Oklahoma and reflects poorly on you as an elected official of the people.





D. Butler


10.06.2011 at 05:59 Reply

Rep. Wesselhoft seems to be using the old politician's trick of twisting the words of those with whom he disagrees.  Ms. Siddiqui did not accuse all Oklahomans of being Islamophobic or ill-informed.  She very clearly addressed her concern that "some of our Oklahoma legislators" are falling victim to anti-Islamic propaganda.  I think Ms. Siddiqui's assessment of our political climate is very fair and not at all inflammatory or disingenuous.  

Mr. Wesselhoft's reference to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero is a red herring -- another debater's trick.  He should know that there was no unanimity in the Muslim community with regard to the proposed Islamic Center.  But, even so, why is it necessary for Ms. Siddiqui to comment on it?  It seems to me that Rep. Wesselhoft is using this to distract the reader from Ms. Siddiqui's main points.  

I appreciate Ms. Siddiqui's positive comments about the values that all Oklahomans hold in common.  All of us have dreams, and Islamic Americans deserve to enjoy the freedom to pursue theirs just like anyone else.  



10.06.2011 at 09:36 Reply

The Islamic organization building the cultural center should not back down for one very simple reason: just as one should not give in to terrorists, one should not give in to bigots.  That people who did terrible things happened to have their religion is simply irrelevant.    People are responsible for their own deeds and not for the deeds of people who of the same race, religion, etc. 

And I imagine the choice of location had a lot to do with finding a building whose owners were eager to sell.   That there are thousands of Muslims in that general area is not in question. 

If one believes in the rule of law then one will note that the proposed new building is not in violation of zoning rules and its owners will not violate any legal obligation by building it.  That alone would allow them to do it even without the First Amendment which itself clearly indicates it does not matter which religion the builder is.