News OK from Oklahoma City reported that a group of religious and other groups gathered outside state Republican headquarters in Oklahoma City on Wednesday in opposition to State Rep. John Bennett's statements about the dangers of Islam. The controversy began when Bennett, a Republican representing Sequoyah County, made comments on his Facebook page about what he considers the dangers of Islam. Bennett also spoke to a crowd at a Sallisaw restaurant Monday night to review his study and thoughts on the religion, which, he said, wants to dominate the world. CAIR, which is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, initially voiced criticisms of Bennett's remarks on Sept. 3. Adam Solution, CAIR executive director in Oklahoma, demanded an apology. Bennett refused and said he stood by his remarks. OK News reported Muslim leaders have asked protection from hate crimes, and said if any occurred, they could be blamed on Bennett. Bennett told KXMX that he also added and beefed up protection to his schedule. Dave Weston, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman, defended Bennett earlier, and said he had the right to free speech. Gov. Mary Fallin, also Republican, said she expected Oklahomans to exercise the freedoms of speech and religion peacefully. Other religious leaders at Wednesday's gathering called for an end to "hatred and bigotry." By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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