Backers of mosque, and others, urge boycott of Electroimpact

MUKILTEO — A group seeking to open a mosque in Mukilteo on Friday called for the Boeing Co. and other major businesses to end their contracts with Mukilteo-based aerospace supplier Electroimpact Inc., asserting that its founder and owner is promoting anti-Muslim bias.

Peter Zieve, president of Electroimpact, helped orchestrate an anonymous, citywide postcard mailing about the mosque project and established an email address, mukilteostay safe@gmail.com. His company is a major supplier of assembly tools to airplane-makers Boeing and Airbus and other major companies around the world.

In a statement released Friday, supporters of the Islamic Center of Mukilteo said that American Muslims uphold the U.S. Constitution and believe in the rights and freedoms of all citizens to live and worship in their own way.

Those freedoms apply to them as well, they said, urging companies that do business with Electroimpact to reconsider their relationships.

“We urge major aerospace companies including Boeing Co., and General Electric to realize that the safety of their own employees’ families and children is put at risk by Peter Zieve’s public promotion of anti-Muslim bias, and to take immediate action to end their contracts with Electroimpact,” the statement said.

A spokesman for Zieve said he could not be reached for comment.

An April 9 email from Zieve says mosque opponents are considering a lawsuit to stop the project “if we can find a cause of legal action.” The email also suggests that opponents “understand the danger” associated with a mosque opening in Mukilteo.

Zieve’s email was sent to dozens of people, including current and past elected office holders, as well as Kerry Hooks, state director of ACT for America. The organization focuses on terrorism, including what it considers to be threats linked to Islam.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama, this year added ACT for America to a list of what it considers hate groups, said Stephen Piggott, a senior research analyst for the organization. “We consider it to be the largest grass-roots anti-Muslim organizations in the United States,” he said.

Hooks did not reply to emails.

Plans for the Mukilteo mosque, which would be 3,796 square feet and stand two stories, were first announced in 2013. The city is reviewing the project for necessary permits. Mohammed Riaz Kahn, of Mukilteo, who ran for City Council last year, has been among those leading the efforts to open the mosque.

Meanwhile, One America, a Seattle-based civil rights group, issued a statement of its own Friday. It criticized Zieve’s recent actions regarding the Mukilteo mosque project, calling them “a sad and shameful example of rising anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.”

“Mr. Zieve should retract his comments and issue an apology to the Muslim community, including Muslims who may work at his own company, at Boeing and who contribute every day to our communities and nation,” the One America statements says. Boeing and other companies that do business with Electroimpact “should consider how such a relationship reflects on their own corporate values,” it adds.

Zieve’s sister, Wendy Zieve, who lives in Shoreline, characterized her brother’s actions as “really disturbing” during an interview Friday.

The family’s grandparents on both sides were Jewish and escaped pogroms in eastern Europe around 1910, she said. Wendy Zieve said she and her brother grew up in a family that valued human rights and belonged to a synagogue with a mission of promoting understanding and tolerance.

She wants to apologize to Khan and other Muslim supporters of the Mukilteo mosque project.

Peter Zieve has so far offered only limited comment to The Daily Herald regarding the controversy.

He initially denied knowing who sent the postcards and then declined to discuss emails and other evidence that linked him to the effort.

The Puget Sound Business Journal on Thursday reported that Zieve confirmed his involvement in sending the postcards.

The article also quoted Zieve as suggesting that people who disagree with his position on the Mukilteo mosque project might be lacking in understanding.

He reportedly made reference to killings by radicalized Muslims, including the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and 22 injured.

“Do they know that the couple that did the San Bernardino massacre were almost daily in the mosque in San Bernardino?” Zieve was quoted as telling a Business Journal reporter.

Electroimpact Inc. is one of Mukilteo’s biggest employers, and Zieve is one of the community’s most celebrated business leaders. His connection to the anti-mosque campaign surprised some in the aerospace industry.

“This is not something we deal with in aerospace,” said Richard Aboulafia, an industry analyst and vice president at the Teal Group in Washington, D.C.

“It is an export-driven business” that depends on global markets, he said.

Zieve’s company builds machines that help make Boeing and Airbus planes possible. Some of Boeing’s and Airbus’ biggest customers are Persian Gulf-based airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Aerospace industry insiders typically have buttoned-down public personalities and shy away from ideological issues, especially emotionally charged ones.

Could Zieve’s opposition to the proposed mosque affect Electroimpact customers Boeing and Airbus?

“I don’t know. We might be in uncharted territory,” Aboulafia said.

Generally, airlines only take public positions on suppliers they buy from directly or if it involves equipment going on the airplane, he said.

“If it is simply going into a Boeing or Airbus factory, it might be under the customer’s radar,” he said.

Regardless, it can’t help Electroimpact’s brand, Aboulafia said.

Boeing and Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Herald reporter Dan Catchpole contributed to this report.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

For more

Updates on the project to build a mosque in Mukilteo are available on the city of Mukilteo’s website at tinyurl.com/MukilteoMosque.

Mohammed Riaz Khan, one of the leaders behind efforts to build a mosque in Mukilteo, said that anyone with questions on the project can email him at riazakhan@hotmail.com.

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