The Islamic Center of Olympia is receiving community support in the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order that bans refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The center recently posted photos on its Facebook page of a letter and flowers that came from anonymous supporters. The letter is addressed to “Dear Friends” and reads:
“We wanted to do a simple gesture to let you know that you are loved and supported. We’re sorry there has been so much hatred and negativity toward the Islamic people. We believe in the Bible, and Jesus said to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ So although these are difficult times, and our new president may not be supportive or kind, we want you to know we support you and will stand by you. You are loved. Love casts out fear and hatred. Sincerely, Your caring friends in Olympia.”
The Olympia area is home to about 500 American Muslim families. Mustafa Mohamedali, a board member at the Islamic Center of Olympia, said no one has yet approached the board about a family member who has encountered travel restrictions because of the executive order.
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The executive order has sparked fear and protests across the nation, while drawing condemnation from local, state, national and international leaders. This week, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the order.
Mohamedali told The Olympian that the threat of a Muslim registry seemed more like a political red herring to distract Americans, but recent events have made him rethink that notion.
“I now think the idea of a Muslim registry is a possibility as an executive order,” he said.
In the meantime, Mohamedali and the Islamic Center of Olympia are sharing ways that people can support the Muslim community. Suggestions include:
▪ Get to know a Muslim or visit a local mosque.
▪ Reach out to elected officials and share your experiences with the Muslim community.
▪ Understand opposing views and learn how to respond with quotes from the U.S. Constitution, for example, or through a personal immigration story.
▪ Donate to institutions that fight for Muslim civil rights, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Muslim Legal Fund of America.
▪ “And finally but most importantly — trust in God,” the list concludes. “He has all this figured out. If it wasn’t for this, many may never have known anything about our community, our faith, our values.”
One notable friend of the Islamic Center of Olympia is the Interfaith Works Overnight Emergency Shelter, which dedicated a Sunday Gratitude Facebook post to the center “for their support and love of our shelter program.” The shelter at First Christian Church in downtown Olympia serves the most vulnerable homeless people.
“Once a month for over a year, they have brought a delicious chicken dinner to the shelter for our 42 guests,” the post reads. “We are so grateful for the role you play in our community in so many ways and we stand with you in solidarity.”
Olympia faith leaders have called on the community to stand up against any hate crimes or race-related violence by supporting the Olympia Charter for Compassion.
The Olympia City Council supported the charter and passed a sanctuary city resolution that vows to serve all residents regardless of immigration status — while refusing to comply with any requests for federal immigration policy enforcement. Last week, President Donald Trump threatened to cut federal grant money for cities that protect immigrants and refugees.
In support of the council’s resolution, several faith leaders will hold a candlelight vigil and speak from 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 outside Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave. E.