Aug 26 2015
The dean of OU’s College of Architecture has issued an apology for wearing clothing associated with Arab Muslims and terrorists at a back-to-school meeting.
OU Daily A photo on the College of Architecture’s Facebook page that has since been deleted showed Dean Charles Graham wearing a white thawb and a red keffiyeh on his head at the meeting on Aug. 20.
In his apology, he said he purchased the garments when he went to Dubai. According to the apology, he asked “a number of [his] Muslim friends around campus and in Norman to see if [his] wearing the attire would be offensive in any religious way,” to which the answers were “all resoundingly ‘no.'”
According to Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of designated terrorist group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), “There is nothing offensive here,” he said. “The callers were more likely offended because of biases against Islam, and they thought the clothing was traditional Muslim attire.”
OU press secretary Corbin Wallace told The Daily in an email that three or four people anonymously contacted the president’s office regarding Graham’s attire. He said Graham took an appropriate step in emailing the apology to faculty and staff.
Graham described himself as “always striving to be inclusive and considerate of others in every context” in his apology, and said his Muslim friends thought wearing the attire would be “a nice gesture of diversity and acceptance of other cultures.”
The College of Architecture has a study abroad program in Dubai which explores building design and construction within the city. The program has sent more than 30 students there in the past couple of years, Graham said in his apology.
Graham welcomes anyone who wants to discuss the matter with him, according to his apology, but declined to comment to The Daily when staff attempted both to call him and to speak with him in person.