Seattle officially supports its Muslims residents, after the council passed a resolution at its meeting on Monday.
Council president Tim Burgess said the resolution was necessary as rhetoric vilifying Muslims is on the rise nationwide.
“Elected leaders hold a responsibility to speak truth against the anti-Muslim hate rhetoric and violence increasing in the national discourse,” he said in a prepared statement. “The City of Seattle welcomes and affirms our Muslim residents, both native born and immigrant, and recognizes the enormous value they add to the cultural and economic life of this city. When we respond from fear, we respond from weakness. We all want our community to be safe, but fear does not lead to safety.”
“We must never allow a religious test for families seeking refuge in the United States or in Seattle,” Mayor Ed Murray said in the prepared statement. “Since our nation was founded, America has always stood as a beacon of freedom and religious pluralism. We stand united in opposition to racism and bigotry that targets any faith community.”
The resolution comes after rising rhetoric against Muslims in recent months, including increasing concern over hate crimes locally.
Last week, Seattle police investigated a reported assault of a Uber driver in downtown Seattle, which allegedly happened during a hate-filled rant about Muslims. Seattle residents also expressed concerns that the death of a 16-year-old who fell from a six-story building might have been a hate crime. The cause of the fall is still under investigation.
Also earlier this year, Seattle-area Hindu temples had been vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti.
In November, Republican presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump called for barring Muslims from entering the United States after a deadly shooting in San Bernardino. In the weeks before the California shooting, numerous governors and mayors issued statements against accepting refugees from Syria in the days following attacks on Paris that were motivated by extremists. Locally, State Rep. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) had been among the politicians criticizing Muslims.
However, much of the reaction in Washington has been critical of that kind of rhetoric, with Gov. Jay Inslee issuing a statement that Syrian refugees would be welcome in Washington. Seattle’s Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine also followed suit.
The resolution passed Monday by the Seattle City Council is as follows:
A RESOLUTION declaring support for Muslim communities, affirming the religious pluralism of the United States, and urging Seattle residents to stand together for peace and understanding.
WHEREAS, Muslims are part of our society and, inspired by their faith, give back every day as U.S. military personnel, police officers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, teachers, and in many other roles contributing to the success of the United States of America and the City of Seattle; and
WHEREAS, our nation’s founding documents emphasize the freedom of religion and a society that embraces religious pluralism; and
WHEREAS, The City of Seattle values the many different cultures, religions and traditions our residents embrace; and
WHEREAS, The City of Seattle continues to work toward a more inclusive society and welcomes cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity; and
WHEREAS, Muslims, both native born and immigrant, represent an increasingly important thread in the tapestry of American society; and
WHEREAS, the Muslim population in Washington State is estimated to be approximately 100,000 people, many thousands of whom live in Seattle, and who share the same American values and freedoms that we all cherish; and
WHEREAS, a significant percentage of Seattle’s immigrants and refugees are Muslim and have come to Seattle seeking a safe place to work, study or raise a family; and
WHEREAS, throughout history the United States has welcomed wave after wave of immigrants and refugees who add enormous value to the economic and cultural life of our nation; and
WHEREAS, presently, anti-Muslim rhetoric has increased in the national discourse and rates of hate violence targeting Muslim families and children are at record highs across our nation, which is detrimental to all people who cherish freedom and liberty; and
WHEREAS, some of the darkest moments in our nation and our city’s history have emerged from similar climates of fear; and
WHEREAS, this fear-based rhetoric distorts the reality of terrorism in the United States, where more individuals have been killed since September 11, 2001 by those who espouse other extremist ideologies like white supremacy or antigovernment fanatics than by those who espouse a perverted form of Islam; and
WHEREAS, hateful rhetoric only enables extremist ideologies to flourish in the dark corners of global society; and
WHEREAS, The City of Seattle finds this anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate violence to be against American principles of religious freedom and fairness and contrary to the vision we hold as a nation that welcomes all people; and
WHEREAS, all of Seattle’s residents deserve to live in a safe environment free of hate and discrimination; and
WHEREAS, The City of Seattle wishes to extend the traditional Islamic greeting of “Peace be upon you” to all of its Muslim residents and visitors; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE, THE MAYOR CONCURRING, THAT:
Section 1. The City of Seattle does not tolerate anti-Muslim hate speech and violent acts committed against those who are Muslim or perceived as being Muslim, their places of worship, businesses, schools, and community centers. These are in direct contradiction to values of The City of Seattle and our open American way of life. We encourage our residents to recognize and celebrate the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity that is represented in our City. We encourage residents to take extra efforts to ensure the safety of their Muslim neighbors. We encourage all City departments to direct appropriate attention and resources to supporting those targeted by hate speech and hate crimes.