This week, the sign at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound was vandalized for the second time in a month, and Redmond police have released a video that appears to show the Saturday morning attack.
The black and white surveillance video shows a man smashing the sign around 12:45 a.m. on Saturday. The members of the mosque discovered the destruction the next morning as they prepared for a community gingerbread house decorating event, according to Q13.
It was the second time in a month that the sign had been vandalized. The first time, other Redmond residents stepped up to help the mosque replace their sign, with one resident raising nearly $2,000 to help the mosque replace its sign. The new sign was installed in a community ceremony on Dec. 9 — and it was this sign that was smashed eight days later.
Redmond Police say it is unknown whether the weekend incident was related to the earlier vandalism. Police say the suspect is described as a young adult white male, tall and thin, wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball hat.
Aneelah Afzali, an attorney and the executive director of MAPS’ new American Muslim Empowerment Network program (known as MAPS-AMEN), told the crowd at a Monday rally organized by Congresswoman-elect Pramila Jayapal that the attack on the mosque reflects the apparent rise in intolerance aimed at Muslims in the past few years. Afzali joined elected officials including Jayapal, Gov. Jay Inslee, Congressional Reps. Adam Smith and Suzan DelBene and other state and local officials in denouncing hate speech and crimes and pledging official support for Muslims and other minorities, including immigrant communities.
“We have our nation’s highest record of hate crimes against American Muslims in 2015, and 2016 is on track to be even worse. When hate speech and conspiracy theories against an American minority go unchallenged, they lead to hate crimes,” Afzali said. “But even if individuals destroy a sign, they cannot destroy the love and tremendous community support upholding that sign. Or our resolve to continue contributing positively to our greater community.”
She encouraged the multi-ethnic and multiracial crowd to speak up against hate speech in daily life.
“We need each of you to also publicly speak about the lives and contributions of the American Muslims you know, and to stand for our shared American values of religious freedom and diversity.”
The vandalism at the Redmond mosque amid additional reports of vandalism appearing to target Muslims in the past month.
In Seattle, artist and photographer Ann-Marie Stillion says a maintenance worker pulled down her sculpture “Unfurled,” a work that had been commissioned by the city to be installed at Lake City Mini Park.
The sculpture was inspired by a year of meetings that Stillion coordinated between Muslim and non-Muslim women in the Seattle area. She was heading past the park when she saw her sculpture had been pulled down.
While the worker first told her that he needed to put the ladder where the sculpture was, he then insulted her, according to Stillion.
“I objected and pointed out that there was probably 20 feet of wall space to place the ladder and the guy burst out that he hated it and started screaming every sort of obscenity at me mostly to do with my gender. ‘Liberal bitch’ was the main refrain,” she told the Globalist.
Stillion said recent political rhetoric seems to have ramped up the hate.
“When I started the project, certainly there was a lot of violence and hatred and animosity that I noticed towards the Muslim community, and I felt uneasy. But I couldn’t have known that this policy would be floated out there — registered Muslims. Trump has made whole kinds of people the enemy, to boost himself up When it actually opened, a week or so after the election, my new Muslim community came and talked, and cried their eyes, out, it gave me the message that art really matters. You don’t know how it’s going to touch the community around you. You just have to try to engage that.”
Additional reporting by Andrew Hamlin.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Stillion witnessed the worker pull down her artwork.