With daily reminders that misconceptions about the Islamic faith influence some American’s opinions — with some area mosques receiving direct threats — a group of approximately 15 members of the Seattle Quaker community and peace activists visited the Islamic Center of Federal Way on Friday to surround them with solidarity and support.
The Friday prayer, or “Jummah,” was the last Jummah of Ramadan.
The Quakers split into two groups, one for the men’s entrance and one at the women’s entrance, holding signs and wishing mosque attendees a “Blessed Ramadan” as they lined up to take off their shoes before entering the mosque. Those coming to worship had the option of taking photos with one or more in the group, holding signs that said “I see dignity in” or “I see light in”… with an arrow pointing left or right. The photos were then shared to social media under the hashtag #LoveThyNeighbor.
Mosque attendee Handan Sharmi, orginally from Turkey, clasped hands with some of the Quakers and thanked them profusely.
“I feel so good, so good. I have friends who are younger girls and attend college. They cannot go to the college alone, they always go together because they’re scared. This support makes me feel so good, confident and safe,” Sharmi said.
Megan Fair says that the event was organized by Quaker group the Friends Committee on National Legislation, also which created the signs, after a number of mosques in the area were threatened in the past month, in one case leading to an arrest.
“For the past year or so, with the elections, there has been a lot of negative rhetoric focused at the Muslim community. We’re working with the #lovethyneighbor campaign which focuses on saying ‘The things you see in the media are not necessarily who American Muslims are,’ ” said Fair, who works as the Assistant Manager of Civil Rights at the Washington state chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations Washington (CAIR-WA).
Polly Jirkovsky Gual, a Quaker and member of South Seattle Friends Meeting, explained why she joined in Friday’s event.
“It seems like there’s a real sense of fear and threats, even in Seattle, in this place that’s supposed to be really progressive. Personally, I wanted to show that not all American’s feel that way, not all white people feel that way, not all people of Christian derived faith feel that way. It was important for me to come out here and say that I think we are all neighbors.”
Amjad Khokher said that continued communication between communities is important.
“The solidarity has to be there. No religion, no spiritual group, or any other social group can survive in a multicultural society unless there is regular communication, we want to know each other, and we feel for each other. Otherwise, things won’t work right. There will be misconceptions and there’s no need for that. Communication should be on a more regular basis,” Khokher said.
Clarification:This post has been amended to clarify that the Quaker group Friends Committee on National Legislation organized the event. Also, a man in a photo was misidentified. This has been corrected.