Seattle-area mosque hosts interfaith vigil for New Zealand victims

CAIR-WA reported that more than 1,000 people of a variety of faiths gathered at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound for a vigil honoring victims who came under attack at two New Zealand mosques. (Photo by Jacquie Bird Day)

Seattle-area Muslim leaders hosted an interfaith vigil and anti-Islamophobia teach-in Monday night in honor of the victims of the terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosques last week.

Leaders from the Jewish, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist communities were among the more than 1,000 people who filled the Muslim Association of Puget Sound in Redmond, according to the Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA).

Along with the vigil in support of the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, several speakers participated in a teach-in.

Aneelah Afzali speaks to the crowd, including politicians, who gathered at MAPS on Monday night. (Photo by Jacquie Bird Day)

Aneelah Afzali, executive director of Muslim Association of Puget Sound – American Muslim Empowerment Network (MAPS-AMEN), addressed how normalized anti-Muslim rhetoric has become in American discourse.

“Islamophobia is not new with President Trump. It’s happened before him, it goes well beyond him, and it is a bi-partisan problem,” Afzali said, according to a press release from CAIR-WA. “We have anti-Muslim bigots on the left as well as on the right in the Bill Mahers, Sam Harris’. It has become a part of our mainstream culture.”

Signs distributed at the vigil at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound said, “We Stand With Our Muslim Neighbors.”(Photo by Jacquie Bird Day)

Politicians in attendance included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Washington’s First Lady Trudi Inslee.

The New Zealand terrorist attacks on the mosques occurred during the Friday prayers on March 15, 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.

Interfaith leaders joined Muslim leaders in solidarity during a vigil for the New Zealand attacks. (Photo by Jacquie Bird Day)
People stood with signs in solidarity at MAPS for a gathering honoring the victims of the New Zealand mosque attack. (Photo by Jacquie Bird Day)