Redmond is a growing city.
And with this growth comes more diversity: In the last 10 years, populations in almost every racial group in the city have grown.
As our neighbors become increasingly different from ourselves, there needs to be more of an effort among us to understand each other. We need to learn what we have in common and let that bring us together rather than allow our differences to drive us apart.
On Monday, a Redmond resident found a note stuck to her vehicle stating, “We don’t (want) Muslims in America” in English and “We don’t want Muslims in our country, go away,” in Arabic.
The woman, who is Muslim and wears an Islamic head scarf, had entered a Starbucks in town with her 9-year-old daughter for about 10 minutes and found the message — written on a sticky note — when they returned to their vehicle.
In response to this incident, Redmond Mayor John Marchione released the following statement:
“The City of Redmond does not welcome nor tolerate this kind of hateful behavior and I encourage residents to contact the police department if they experience or witness it. Our community is strengthened by the diversity of those who live and work in Redmond and our city continues to reach out to our various faith communities to help prevent such incidents in the future.”
Unfortunately, this was not a singular incident.
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director for the Washington chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), said “there has been a pattern of notes being left and flyers being left.” About two months earlier, a store employee in the same shopping center found a typed note with similar sentiments on his vehicle. Additionally, Bukhari said in the last few months, Muslims in Redmond and around the Eastside have also been confronted in person with anti-Islamic behavior — sometimes when children were present.
Fortunately, these incidents have not risen toward hate crimes, but is this really something we want in our neighborhoods?
Undoubtedly, it is fortunate no one has been physically hurt, but this does not negate the harassment that has been committed.
This type of behavior is unacceptable. People move to Redmond because it’s a welcoming community — a safe place to raise a family with quality schools. They come from all different backgrounds and should not have to defend themselves for these differences.
What kind of message are we sending to young people if we tolerate such acts?
Kids learn and imitate behaviors from the adults around them. If we allow people to be singled out simply because they’re different, kids will assume it’s okay. If we witness an act of harassment, but do nothing to stop it, kids will do the same. If we are harassed for our differences but do nothing, kids will assume it is okay to be treated that way.
It is not okay and this is a lesson that every adult should pass on to their children.
The world — not just Redmond — is becoming more diverse and integrated. Every day, we are encountering so many people who are so different from ourselves. We should be using these opportunities to learn instead of fearing what we don’t know.
After all, despite all these differences, we’re all human.