Shaykh Imad Al Busaad, imam of the Kent Islamic Center, speaks at a joint interfaith vigil and community gathering at the center’s gym Friday night. Al Busaad urged people of all faiths to come together and strive for peace in an era of Islamophobia. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Shaykh Imad Al Busaad, imam of the Kent Islamic Center, speaks at a joint interfaith vigil and community gathering at the center’s gym Friday night. Al Busaad urged people of all faiths to come together and strive for peace in an era of Islamophobia. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

People of different languages and looks can come together in a multi-colored world stained with hatred and hostility.

It’s a matter of acceptance, heart and hope, local faith leaders say.

“We must sit together, get to know each other and spread the message of peace,” said Shaykh Imad Al Busaad, imam of the Kent Islamic Center, speaking at a joint interfaith vigil and community gathering at the center’s gym Friday night.

“We must work together as people of faith,” he said, “and how can we do that if I don’t know you and you don’t know me?”

In a show of solidarity, the town hall-like program brought together worship leaders from many faiths – along with city, regional and state representatives – for discussion, prayer and song in the wake of a global tragedy. Guest speakers took turns extending condolences and honoring the 50 Muslims killed in terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer March 15.

A 28-year-old Australian man, described in media reports as a white supremacist, was arrested and charged with murder. The attacks, which also injured 50 others, have been connected to an increase in white supremacism and alt-right extremism worldwide since the mid-2010s, authorities said.

Al Busaad joined other faith leaders in condemning the attacks. He described the media as the “enemy” for perpetuating the strife and called upon people of all faiths to bridge their differences in the pursuit of peace.

“We’re different … but we are warm-hearted people,” he said.

Supporting words, actions

State Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, declared “hate has no place here,” adding that lawmakers will continue to work on anti-hate crime legislation. Das, who was born in India, is one of four women of color serving in the Senate.

Bill Boyce, Kent City Council president, speaking on behalf of the council, said the city remains committed to a “safe and inclusive community.” Assistant Police Chief Derek Kammerzell reminded faith groups that officers will continue to respond to any credible threats to the Muslim community.

The city also is working on a speaker series and other programs to build interfaith understanding and relationships.

King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove presented the Islamic community with a proclamation that condemned acts of violence against those exercising their constitutionally protected right to worship. It recognized the increase of anti-Muslim hate crimes nationally and within the state of Washington and called on county residents to stand together as a community against Islamophobia and all forms of hate and violence.

Amanda Misasi, a civil rights attorney for the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the state continues to see an increase in reported threats. CAIR received 438 claims of religious discrimination in Washington in 2017.

“It’s important to stand in solidarity,” she said. “We’re encouraged (by the response here). We have a caring community.”

John Armagost is the senior minister of Panther Lake Community Church, which stands a block away from the Islamic Center. Pastor Armagost encouraged the community to pull together and “knock the walls” down that divide people of difference race and religion.

“Our faiths have a lot in common,” he said. “We are to love one another.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Blotter bug
Black Diamond police blotter | Jan. 4 – 10

A choking child, stolen cupcakes, and parenting issues.

A female Pine Siskin, which is one of several birds irrupting from further north. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Local birds experiencing a pandemic of their own

The Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging people to put away their bird feeders for the time being.

West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
EPA loans King County $96.8 million to prevent untreated water from spilling into Puget Sound

Loan comes a week after an over 10 million gallon overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

National Guard troops, pictured Jan. 11 at the state Capitol in Olympia, have been on standby in case of violent protests. (Photo by Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press)
At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

There were no protests or arrests as troopers patrolled and the National Guard assumed a lower profile.

Seattle-King County Public Health recommends users keep Naloxone on their person, just in case of overdose. File photo
King County sees spike in fatal overdose cases

42 suspected or confirmed overdose deaths were recorded between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9.

A parcel of land on Roosevelt Avenue would be developed into lots for 23 single-family homes if the city approves. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Council awards bid for roundabout in front of Enumclaw High

Also, 23 more homes could be coming to Roosevelt Avenue.

Property along Mud Mountain Road has sat vacant and unused for years. Now, a local group has come forward with a proposal for the city-owned park land. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Group proposing rehab center, public trail system on city park land

Anderson Riverview Park could get a facelift in the near future.

Former Councilman Tony Binion resigned his position immediately at the Jan. 11 meeting, while Councilman Kyle Jacobson will stay in his position until the end of the month. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Two Enumclaw council members leaving their posts

Tony Binion and Kyle Jacobson are moving outside city limits — one just to unincorporated King County, and the other a lot farther.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Most Read