Faith and community members show support for MAPS with new sign dedication | SLIDESHOW

After the sign at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) was vandalized on Nov. 21, there has been an outpouring of support for the Redmond mosque.

That support came to a head Friday afternoon when more than 200 people braved the cold to be present for the installation and unveiling of the new MAPS sign.

Among those in attendance were about 50 individuals representing various faith groups, community organizations, local and state government and more, who participated in the new sign’s dedication. This group of dignitaries placed their hand prints in the wet cement below the sign to create a “base of hands” to symbolize holding up the MAPS community as well as unity at a time when hate crimes are on the rise and minority communities are anxious.


Aneelah Afzali, who emceed the ceremony, told the crowd that standing together aligns with the teachings of the Quran.

“We stand for justice for all,” she said, adding that an attack on anyone or anything representing any group of people is an attack on the entire community.

Afzali shared with the crowd a story about a man who carried out a violent attack as the result of Islamophobia. She said afterwards, the man spent some time with Muslims and admitted that if he had gotten to know people who are Muslim beforehand, he would not have carried out the attack. That man, Afzali said, has since become an ally for Muslims.

She extended a similar invitation to the individual or individuals who vandalized the MAPS sign to meet with them and get to know them.

“We here at MAPS welcome you,” she said, adding that she hopes they could become a devoted friend.

During his remarks to the crowd, MAPS President Mahmood Khadeer emphasized the importance of focusing on the commonalities among different groups of people, rather than their differences. He said people may pray differently, but they still share common purposes, such as fighting for justice and against discrimination.

Khadeer said the fact that at least 50 communities — referring to the dignitaries creating the base of hands below the new sign — are behind them shows that MAPS is not alone. He told the crowd that he was deeply humbled by their support and that “we cannot take unity for granted.”


That unity was further demonstrated as the ceremony included prayers from an imam as well as a rabbi and pastor.

Lisa Horst Clark, lead pastor of First Congregational Church in Bellevue, was among the trio of religion leaders to recite prayers before the sign dedication and said she was honored to be able to participate in the ceremony.

She said it was important to have people of different backgrounds participate and show their support for MAPS because the voices of love and support need to be louder than the voices of hate — especially as Muslims are particularly vulnerable at the moment. People need to be present and show up, Horst Clark said.

Redmond Mayor John Marchione was also present for the dedication and placed his hand print at the base of the sign. He briefly addressed the crowd, thanking everyone for their support of MAPS, saying people’s different backgrounds represented the tapestry that is Redmond.

Redmond Police Chief Kristi Wilson, who was also in attendance, added that the ceremony was really special, noting the volume of people in attendance and the fact that they were from all walks of life. She said being among the dignitaries to place her hand print below the sign reflected the police’s relationship with MAPS. Wilson added that she is honored to have such a good relationship with the mosque.


In addition to the local religion and government leaders, representatives from various community groups and organizations helped create the base of hands below the new sign, including Densho executive director Tom Ikeda.

Densho is an organization whose mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished.

As a third-generation Japanese American, he said all four of his grandparents, both parents and a number of aunts and uncles were interned in the camps during the war. With this personal experience of being singled out by the government, Ikeda said he is determined to not allow something like this to happen again, referring to president-elect Donald Trump’s proposal to have all Muslims in the country register.

During the ceremony proceedings and as she announced those who would be placing their hand prints below the sign, Afzali also made sure to highlight the support the Muslim community has received from the Japanese American community since the presidential election.

While much of Friday’s event focused on the present and the importance people supporting each other, organizers also looked to the future and the work that needs to be done.

Some of that work includes partnering with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, One America, El Centro de la Raza and other groups that work with immigrant communities and advocate for the civil rights of all people.

Afzali, who was recently named executive director of MAPS’ new American Muslim Empower Network (MAPS-AMEN), said those interested in learning more about how they can take action and get more involved can email