Editor's note: The metal face of the new granite slab in front of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound mosque was vandalized again early Saturday, Dec. 17. Redmond Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. KCTS 9 attended the Hate-Free Washington Rally to capture reactions from members of the community. See the photo gallery and story here.
Late on a weekend night in November, the sign in front of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) was vandalized. The granite sign for the Redmond mosque was cracked in several locations, with large sections of the top broken off. The initial reaction of Aneelah Afzali, an attorney and the Executive Director of the newly launched MAPS-AMEN program was one of shock, given that this was the first time the mosque has been targeted by vandals. However, with hate crimes against Muslim Americans surging in 2015 — and an anticipated increase by the end of 2016 — some are left wondering if this case of vandalism is part of a larger, national trend.
MAPS President Mahmood Khadeer released a statement on Nov. 22 providing information about the vandalism and how people could help. He ended the statement with the following:
“As a nation we have come too far to let our fundamental rights be taken away from us, to let our nation’s character be hijacked and to let our communities be divided. Through dialogue with our families, through voicing our concern in our communities and through engaging in acts of goodness, we will overcome hate.”
During the week following the sign vandalism, over 500 locals visited the Redmond mosque, offering support in the form of prayers, flowers and cards. One community member launched a GoFundMe campaign to help install a new sign, raising $1,970.
On Dec. 9, MAPS held a special afternoon ceremony to install a new sign, beginning with a sermon from Imam Mohamed Magid, who made a special trip from Virginia to attend. A diverse crowd of attendees included the Congresswoman-elect Pramila Jayapal, Redmond Mayor John Marchione, a Washington State Supreme Court Justice, interfaith leaders, and concerned citizens — many of whom wrote direct words of encouragement on the mosque’s Community Wall. A handful of others were given the opportunity to place their handprint in the wet cement at the base of the new sign as a show of longstanding solidarity with their Muslim neighbors.
We can take these moments of negativity and turn them into something positive.
At the end of a long day of celebration, Aneelah Afzali offered this final reflection:
“Unfortunately, the majority of Americans do not personally know a Muslim. So there’s an obligation on us to go out there and educate people about the true Islam. Today was a beautiful example of what Islam actually teaches. Despite all of these hate crimes and other acts of hate, this is also an opportunity. And I hope that message came through very strongly today. We can take these moments of negativity and turn them into something positive. Because love is far greater than hate.”
Bryan Tucker is a freelance producer and documentary filmmaker based in Seattle. His first feature-length documentary film, Closure, secured national cable broadcast distribution, regional broadcast distribution on KCTS 9’s “Reel NW” series and is available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon VOD. Bryan works with a variety of freelance clients in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, and seeks out projects that elevate marginalized voices and address social justice issues.More stories by Bryan Tucker