LIMA — The title of OSU-Lima mathematics professor Mohamed Yousif’s lecture may have left attendees expecting something different Wednesday.
Yousif, a Muslim, delivered a lecture titled “Islamophobia: A Personal Story.” Instead of hearing stories of personal attacks, problems with fellow employees or his children’s classmates or hate mail, they heard stories of his daughter’s birthday parties, close friendships with others from around the world, the graduations of his two sons and much more.
In other words, living like a typical American family.
Yousif, an Egyptian native, later moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen until coming to the U.S. He applied for American citizenship in 2002 and became a U.S. citizen. He said he is proud to be a U.S. citizen. He told a story of general acceptance as an American, and actually reflected on only one personal family experience that was negative.
“I think people may expect to hear negative,” Yousif said. “In truth, I have never felt different.”
Yousif said his approach may be the key to better relations of helping solve Islamophobia in the U.S. Rather than be different, Yousif said he has always had an open policy at his home to all cultures. He said the result has been lifelong friendships all around the world. His association to the mathematics field has developed friendships with natives of China and Germany, just to name a couple. He takes the same approach to the classroom, where he says he has never had problems either.
“I try not to be political,” Yousif said. “What prompted me was talk from some of the candidates. There was talk of stopping Muslims until they knew what was going on. I want to tell them what is going on. I want them to hear this so they know what is going on.”
Yousif told of one time that his daughter came home crying, asking when they were going to move because of what was being said on television about Muslims.
“Where would we go,” Yousif said of the problem. “She has known nowhere but being an American. She doesn’t feel like she is anything but American.”
Yousif told of a time when children at his daughter’s school were to dissect the meaning of Cheryl Dyson’s poem on Veterans Day. Asmaa’s description of the poem surprised many at her school for her mentioning of soldiers being confident and strong, fighting for others and deserving our respect and attention, and the meaning of the flag’s colors.
We need somehow to maybe change the formula to prepare ourselves for the future,” Yousif said.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.