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Christchurch: Mourning and Learning Together One Auburn Residents' Experience at the Interfaith Vigil & Anti-Islamophobia Teach-In

On March 15, 2019, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were heinously attacked.  The two consecutive terrorist mass shootings took place at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, during Friday Prayer.  The attacks began at the Al Noor Mosque at 1:40 pm, and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre at about 1:55 pm. 

The attacks killed 50 people and injured 50 more.  A full list of the victims has not been released.  Here are the names currently available:

  • Hati Mohemmed Doud Nabi, 71, of New Zealand. candle vigil, rest in peace,
  • Mohsen Mohammed Al Harbi, 63, of New Zealand.
  • Kamel Moh’d Kamal Kamel Darwish, 38, of Jordan.
  • Junaid Ismail, 36, of New Zealand.
  • Mucaad Ibrahim, 3, of New Zealand.
  • Khalid Mustafa, 44
  • Hamza Mustafa, 15
  • Injured: Zaed Mustafa, 13

MAPS, MAPS-AMEN and CAIR-WA hosted an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre on Monday, March 18th. A teach-in about combating Islamophobia in our communities followed the vigil. 

Vicki Bates attended the vigil and teach-in.  Here she shares her experience.

Auburn, Des Moines, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Paraguay. Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Lutheran. At the invitation of the gracious emcee and Auburn High School alumna Shukri Olow, we introduced one another.  We shared where we were from and why we came. Over a thousand people from the greater Seattle area came together the evening of Monday, March 18, for a Muslim Community Interfaith Vigil & Anti-Islamophobia Teach-In.

The program provided an opportunity to grieve together for the Muslim faithful slain in Christchurch, to support our Muslim neighbors feeling the sting of hate, and to learn about the role of Islamophobia behind these issues and how to respond.

Hearing From Leaders of Faith and the Community

interfaith leaders, interfaith vigil and anti-Islamophobia teach-in, redmond mosque, MAPS
Interfaith Leaders address the vigil and teach-in attendees | Photo credit, Vicki Bates

Regional faith leaders provided comfort and inspiration while also challenging attendees to lean into our humanity to act for stronger and safer communities. The Reverend Dr. Kelle Brown of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle challenged Christians to recognize Islamophobia and the ideology of white supremacy as sins. Rabbi David Basior summoned the words of Rabbi Joachim from the 1963 March on Washington who, recounting his own experience as a German refugee said, “The most important thing that I learned under those most tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

As Muslim attendees completed sunset prayers, others stood and held signs, “We stand with our Muslim neighbors.” While the room was quiet, the message was loud.

Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and US Representative Pramila Jayapal spoke from among the elected officials in attendance.   Auburn’s 8th Congressional District Representative Dr. Kim Schrier was also in attendance.

Connected to Christchurchquotes to live by, elie wiesel, silence kills

The abstract was made personal as Nayab Khan shared the story of learning of the death of his friend in the Christchurch massacre.  Khan’s friend was a man who charged the shooter, ultimately causing him to stop shooting in the first mosque.  A man in the mosque with his son, about to be married.  A man who raised bees out of his concern for the environment.  A man who posted his bee stories on Facebook, as you or I would.

How do we enable our Muslim neighbors to worship without fear? To walk their communities without being told to ‘go home?’ The Teach-In portion of the program provided guidance. CAIR-WA’s Executive Director Masih Fouladi challenged all of us to spend 30 minutes a month learning about a culture, religion, or racial group different than our own.

MAPS-AMEN Executive Director Aneelah Afzali’s question in her call to action really stuck with me. To paraphrase, “Are you learning about the Islamic faith from a Muslim or an anti-Muslim?” Authentic relationships with our Muslim neighbors provide us an alternative to the Islamophobic socialization in the environment around us.

For more information on how you can help, check out this resource from the Muslim Association of Puget Sound.

how to defeat islamaphobia, anti-Islamophobia, MAPS
Photo Credit, Vicki Bates

 

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