updated 10/24/2007 2:27:33 PM ET 2007-10-24T18:27:33

A gift intended to promote diversity in Oklahoma is generating controversy instead.

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Several state lawmakers are returning copies of the Quran to a state panel on diversity after one lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people.

In a letter to colleagues, state Representative Rex Duncan says "most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology." At least 17 other legislators have notified the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council that they too will return the gift.

The council's chairwoman, herself a Muslim, is denouncing Duncan's assessment of Islam. She says Islam not an ideology but a religion, and a "very peaceful, very inclusive" one.

In Washington, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations calls Duncan's statement "disturbing" and "offensive."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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