Update: March 15, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
A interfaith vigil and teach-in will be held at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday March 18. The event will be organized by Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington and MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network), with support from local mosques and Muslim groups and leaders. RSVPs can be made at: bit.ly/muslimstrong
“This is a time of tragedy and trauma,” said Aneelah Afzali, executive director of MAPS-AMEN, in a prepared statement. “But to really address the roots of the problem and not just its horrific and even deadly consequences, we wanted to go beyond thoughts and prayers. In addition to a vigil and interfaith prayer service, we also want to educate the wider community about the real problem of Islamophobia and how it hurts all of us as Americans.
Local, national and international groups are calling for support for Muslims after a terrorist attack against two mosques at Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people and injuring dozens more.
The Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque were attacked during Friday prayers, according to local news reports.
Three people were arrested in connection to the attack, and one, a white 28-year old man originally from Australia, has been charged with murder. His weapons were covered in white supremacist graffiti.
“These people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Here in Seattle, Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Washington, said while the organization does not believe that there are active threats to mosques in Washington, CAIR-WA is working with local law enforcement and mosque leaders to ensure that places of worship are secure.
“We grieve with our brothers and sisters in New Zealand tonight. This type of violent hate is unacceptable anywhere and particularly horrifying in a house of worship. No one should ever feel afraid while practicing their faith,” he said in a statement.
The organization in a statement also encouraged people to donate to the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre, to help the victims in New Zealand.
The Seattle-area’s Faith Action Network, a multi-religion partnership between houses of worship, posted on Facebook that the Muslim Association of Puget Sound in Redmond will host an interfaith solidarity gathering at 7 p.m. Monday.
Nationally and internationally, advocates also called for greater accountability of elected officials.
Muslim Advocates, a U.S. civil rights organization, called for greater political accountability from elected officials and from social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The suspect broadcast a live video of the attack, and the video has spread through social media.
“A house of worship is a sacred, sacred place not just for Muslims, but for people of all faiths,” said Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera spoke on CNN. “To see that shattered… it’s heartbreaking. If it can happen in New Zealand, it can happen in the United States.”
“People are resilient. We are not stopping going to mosques, and worshipping and reaching out to our friends and our neighbors,” Khera said. “We are going to get through this, but we are going to demand more action from our elected officials and law enforcement to protect us and all Americans from this white nationalist threat.”
In Australia, journalist Waleed Aly in an address on his public affairs show The Project also called out politicians for using anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has made such views more commonplace.
“The thing that scared me most was when I started reading the manifesto that one of the apparent perpetrators apparently published, not because it was deranged, but because it was so familiar,” he said.
“You’ll have to forgive me, these won’t be my best words…”
— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 15, 2019