Apr 6, 2023 - News

Lawmaker's Quran went missing from Texas Capitol chapel

The Quran that state Rep. Salman Bhojani placed in the Texas Capitol's chapel. Photo: Courtesy of Mason Reid

The disappearance of a Quran from the Texas Capitol's chapel has left people wondering who did it — and why.

Driving the news: State Rep. Salman Bhojani, a newly elected Democrat from Euless, placed his family's Quran in the chapel in late March after learning that it didn't have a copy available for visitors to use.

Yes, but: The Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees security at the Capitol, found the Quran and returned it to Bhojani yesterday.

The intrigue: DPS hasn't said who took the sacred text from the chapel and why, per the Texas Tribune. The agency didn't respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • Bhojani's office says they were told the person who took the Quran is cooperating with DPS, but they also haven't been told who did it.

The big picture: Earlier this year, Bhojani and a Houston-area doctor became the first Muslims to be elected to the state Legislature.

  • It was the first time in Texas' recent history that a state lawmaker was sworn in using the Quran — a big step toward inclusion for the 400,000 or so Muslims who live in Texas.

What's happening: The state has placed a different copy of the Quran in the chapel.

  • "I am pleased and relieved that my family Qur'an has been returned and there is a Qur'an available for use again in the Capitol Chapel. The Chapel is a safe space for all Texans to practice their faith traditions," Bhojani said in a statement.

Flashback: Islamophobia in Texas remains high, and Muslims have historically had a hard time earning respect in state politics.

  • In 2007, then-state Sen. Dan Patrick boycotted the first time a Muslim prayer was delivered as the Senate's daily invocation. "I think that it's important that we are tolerant as a people of all faiths, but that doesn't mean we have to endorse all faiths," he said later, per the Houston Chronicle.
  • In 2019, there was a failed attempt to oust a Muslim vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party over allegations that he couldn't represent "all Republicans" in the county.

Between the lines: William White, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Houston office, tells Axios that he wonders if the Quran incident was yet another attempt to undermine Muslims.

  • "We're definitely wondering who did that and why. We would be interested in seeing what the report is from Texas DPS, if it is ever revealed," he says.

The bottom line: "Despite people's attempts to make Muslims feel unwelcome, we are and will continue to be part of the fabric of the state," White says.


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