Idriss Mosque threw its annual barbecue Sunday to say thanks to a community that has nurtured and protected the Northgate Islamic place of worship.
For 15 years, North Seattle’s Idriss mosque has thrown a summer barbecue as thanks to a community that has embraced the place of worship — and shielded it from periodic anti-Muslim threats.
For some of the hundreds who stopped by Sunday’s gathering, this year’s political climate — and news of recent hate-crime threats — was all the more reason to show support.
“Some people are responding to negativity in the news,” said Hisham Farajallah, secretary of the mosque’s board of trustees and a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Washington, who greeted visitors, including Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, as they lined up for hamburgers and tours.
Sharon Heiber and her husband, Kyle Wilson, said rhetoric such as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s calls to ban Muslim immigrants influenced them to stop by.
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“It’s ridiculous, and not something we support,” Wilson said.
Heiber said they’ve lived near the mosque but had not known about the annual barbecue until they got an invitation at home. “We just thought we should come down. It’s a great part of our neighborhood,” she said.
The annual barbecue was started in gratitude for the outpouring of support that bloomed after a man, in a fit of rage after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, threatened the mosque with gasoline and a pistol.
The community responded with bouquets of flowers and thousands of cards and letters. For two months, volunteers ringed the mosque to protect it around the clock.
On Sunday, young women gave tours of the mosque to visitors, who removed their shoes in the lobby. As guests entered, they passed through a door scratched and dented from a recent incident in which a man attacked the mosque and broke a nearby display case, according to Farajallah.
That followed a June incident in which a Seattle man was arrested and charged with posting pictures of the mosque and threatening to “take revenge” against Muslims, in an apparent reference to a gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
For Rabbi Jason Levine of Temple Beth Am in Wedgwood, going to the mosque was not about politics. “It’s about support of community,” he said. “We’re neighbors.”