'We're not scared.' Seattle's Muslim community prays together after New Zealand shooting rampage
Dua Khan, 23, usually takes a break from work at the University of Washington Medical Center to pray on Fridays. She does it alone, or sometimes with a coworker.
But this Friday, after 49 people were killed in prayer at two New Zealand mosques, Khan decided she wanted to be around people feeling what she was feeling — and to be in a place where she didn't have to explain anything to anyone.
"There's always some problem going on — there's always someone attacking our religion, or someone else's religion," she said after Jummah, the Friday prayer, at Islamic House on the University of Washington campus. "But I'm not sure I can remember the last time I felt like this, where I felt so deeply to come to Islamic House and pray with other people."
Khan wasn't alone. Muslim Student Association co-president Maqsud Nur, 21, estimated that 30 to 40 young women alone showed up for Friday prayer, an uptick in what Islamic House usually sees.
"I think everyone just agrees, you know, today of all days we're going to prove that we're not scared," Nur said. "We're still here."
A representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Washington spoke at the service Khan attended to assure worshipers that the nonprofit was in touch with law enforcement, and that police were patrolling mosques around Jummah time.
Seattle police tweeted, too, that they were working with federal and state partners to monitor any potential threats.
Nur, the MSA co-president, said she appreciated that Friday's service didn't just focus on the tragedy they learned of that morning. She was obviously saddened by what happened, she said, but not shocked.
She wasn't surprised, either, that the suspected gunman made mention of white identity and President Trump in a manifesto posted online.
"When Donald Trump retweets Breitbart news, retweets anti-Muslim sentiment and he has a big following, it's not surprising that people agree with what he's saying and actually want to take action on things that he's saying," Nur said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement of support with the Muslim community on Friday. And at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound in Redmond, a small crowd brought signs and flowers for people coming to pray.
Outside the walls of Islamic House, however, life for non-Muslims continued with little disruption.
Students laughed and stretched their limbs in the sunlight. At a house around the corner from where Muslim students gathered to pray, a group of fraternity brothers sipped out of red solo cups on the lawn.
"On my Facebook I don't see a lot of non-Muslims posting about this, which which made me sad," Khan, the 23-year-old University of Washington Medical Center staffer, said. "It's sad to see that I'm only seeing Muslim friends sharing this versus my non-Muslim friends."
CAIR-Washington and the Muslim Association of Puget Sound will hold an interfaith vigil on Monday.
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