By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — Peter Zieve, president of the aerospace firm Electroimpact Inc., who has been criticized for mailing an anonymous citywide postcard as part of campaign to oppose plans for a local mosque, now says he plans to apologize for his actions.
“The correct route is to apologize,” Zieve said during a phone call Monday evening.
Zieve said he had been contacted by Aziz Junejo, a Muslim living in Seattle who has written on Muslim topics for years and has a weekly cable television show, “Focus on Islam.”
Junejo offered to set up a meeting between Zieve and Mukilteo mosque supporters “as an opportunity to diffuse the situation.”
Zieve said he thought it was a great offer and asked Junejo to set up a private meeting.
Junejo said he is talking to fellow Muslims and they’ve indicated they want to gather in public.
“I’m sure (Zieve) is a very sincere person,” Junejo said. “But for the Muslim community, it’s very offensive what he’s done. It’s a matter of seriousness to us. I don’t know that the community feels like he’s taken it seriously yet.”
Plans for the mosque, the Islamic Center of Mukilteo, which is planned for 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd., were first announced in 2013. The postcard mailing occurred as the City of Mukilteo is considering land use permits.
Zieve has come under some criticism for a postcard mailing calling attention to plans for the mosque with no identifying name or group listed, but with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zieve also wrote an April 9 email, distributed to dozens of people inside and outside Mukilteo, saying that a lawsuit against the mosque was being contemplated. The email also suggests that opponents who “understand the danger” associated with the mosque should contact city officials about it.
In addition to the planned apology, Zieve said that neither he nor others who previously joined his opposition to the mosque now have any plans to try to slow the city’s permitting process for the building.
On Friday, the Islamic Center of Mukilteo called for a boycott of Zieve’s business, in part for what it characterized as Zieve’s public promotion of anti-Muslim bias. Electroimpact is a prominent maker of automated machines for jetliner assembly and counts the Boeing Co. as a major customer.
Mohammed Riaz Khan, of Mukilteo, one of the leaders of the worshipers seeking to open the mosque, as well as the Seattle civil rights group One America, have asked for apologies from Zieve.
Zieve said he has asked to meet with Khan, who has been the spokesman for the mosque group, to personally tell him of his decisions.
Khan said he is meeting with a group of mosque supporters this week and will ask their thoughts on what he should do. He said he was told that Zieve was traveling and the meeting likely wouldn’t be set up until later this month.
“He wants to clean his reputation,” Khan said of Zieve.
Mary Ellen Wood, executive director of the Everett-based Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington said on Tuesday that she is glad to hear that Zieve is talking about apologizing. “Whatever his motivation, apologies are tough,” she said.
But Zieve saying “I’m sorry” won’t eliminate anti-Muslim ideologies, she said. The group is calling for the development of regular interfaith supper meetings to help replace fear with understanding.
“I feel excited we have an opportunity to begin to use something that might initially have been negative and move it into an opportunity to get folks together to increase understanding,” Wood said.
The Interfaith Association’s announced its plans to bring people of various faiths together in a letter released Tuesday, signed by Wood and Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall of Temple Beth Or in Everett.
“Each of our faith traditions calls on us to deepen our connection to each other as opposed to separating ourselves,” Marshall said. “Love and hope are so much stronger than hatred and intolerance.”
Meanwhile, a land use permit needed for the mosque project won’t be the focus of a public hearing, according to Glen Pickus, planning manager for the City of Mukilteo.
A revised wetlands rating system from the state Ecology Department requires a 40-foot buffer, he said. No hearing is required for any project that doesn’t reduce a buffer by at least half, which the mosque project does not, he said.
A decision on a land use development permit is expected by Friday. If approved, the city will accept public comment on the project through May 20, he said. The earliest a final decision could be made on the project is mid-June, Pickus said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.
Anyone interested in joining the proposed interfaith supper meetings may contact the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington at 425-252-6672 or my email the group through their website at www.interfaithwa.org/