STILLWATER — A dream to earn his doctoral degree brought Omar Amer to Oklahoma State University.
Amer, 33, said he was born in Maryland to Egyptian immigrant parents who eventually returned to Egypt, where he spent many of his childhood years.
The studious Amer earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, before accepting an offer to pursue his doctorate in Stillwater.
Amer said his stay in the college town has been pleasant and he will miss it if he and his wife decide to leave after his graduation in December.
While in Oklahoma, the Islamic Society of Stillwater’s mosque at 616 N Washington has been the student’s house of worship and he has been pleased with the support mosque members have received from the local interfaith community.
He noted in particular that some churches, like nearby Salem Lutheran, had expressed support in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks when anti-Muslim sentiment seemed to increase across the country. Church members had visited the mosque several times in efforts to learn more about Islam and their Muslim neighbors.
“The spirit and willingness of people to come and support us was really nice,” Amer said.
Amer said he was also delighted to learn that several OSU religious studies professors were encouraging their students to visit the mosque for class credit and Wade Watkins, Ph.D., dean of global education at Northern Oklahoma College, has made a visit to the mosque a part of his class syllabus.
Amer said the interfaith support is among the reasons he and his family feel safe and have enjoyed their time in Oklahoma.
Though he hasn’t experienced ill-will from anyone, he is very concerned about bigotry against Muslims across the country. Amer said there is a double standard that seems to exist when it comes to individuals who ascribe to the Islamic faith.
When a person who claims to be Muslim commits a crime, the story goes viral but when a Muslim is the victim of a crime, it doesn’t get much attention.
And Amer said he emphasizes that bloodshed is not a part of Islam.
“People don’t see that these terrorists are not Muslims. That’s what really breaks the heart of every Muslim.”