Community rallies around Puget Sound Muslims after New Zealand attack

SEATTLE– At least one police car has been outside the Idris Mosque all day Friday.  Muslim leaders say they haven’t been met with aggression, but by people rallying outside the building and creating a memorial.

“In this time it’s really important that we show our neighbors that everybody deserves the right to be respected and loved and cherished and to feel safe,” said Sara Louis Gilbert.

At the Islamic House near University of Washington’s campus, Muslims gather for Friday Prayer.  It’s the holiest day of the week for Muslims.  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Masih Fouladi says it’s a time for congregational prayer and unity.

“It serves as a weekly reminder of what it means to be Muslim and our core values,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Masih Fouladi.

Now the holy day is marked by tragedy in New Zealand, sending shockwaves to Puget Sound.

“Reports of there being a manifesto and potentially there being a call to action,” said Fouladi.

That’s why Fouladi called police for extra patrols around mosques in the area.

“This rhetoric that has really infected our politics has really affected our people of color,” said Fouladi.

In Seattle, hate crimes almost doubled from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI.  Washington state’s hate crimes have steadily risen over the past few years.

Hate-Crimes-graph-WA-Seattle.jpg

When the Islamic Center of Eastside or Bellevue Mosque was set on fire twice it raised concerns.  Police ruled it wasn’t a hate crime, but these arsons still stoked fears for a community that is often targeted.  That’s why Rickard McKewen showed up to show love will conquer hate.

“It’s what it means to be an American is to be accepting of people no matter where they’re from or what they're religion is, and to support them in difficult time,” said McKewen.

Fouladi hopes this message will spread.

“I would hope that we would see that shared humanity and the similarities that we all have with one another, even when there aren’t these tragic incidents,” said Fouladi.

University of Washington officials say “we have fewer than 10 faculty and students (total) registered to study or teach in New Zealand at the moment. We are currently working to contact all of them to ensure they are safe and to provide them with additional health and safety information in the wake of this incident.”

The community is invited to attend a vigil for the shooting victims Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Muslim Association of Puget Sound at 17550 NE 67th Ct, Redmond, Wash.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.