Meeting hopes to calm concerns over Mukilteo mosque

MUKILTEO — For the past two months, the city has been embroiled in controversy over plans for construction of a mosque, the Islamic Center of Mukilteo.

It began with the citywide mailing in April of an anonymous postcard telling of plans for the mosque with the contact email: Mukilteostaysafe@gmail.com. The mailing was later tied to Peter Zieve, president and owner of Electroimpact Inc., an aerospace firm that’s one of the city’s biggest employers.

Earlier this month, flyers with the words “Ban Islam from America” were posted at 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd., the site of the planned mosque. A U.S. flag was placed nearby.

In response to these events, a public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church. It’s a time when people can learn more about Islam as well as a chance to ask Mohammed Riaz Khan, mosque president, questions about the project.

John Beck and his wife, Joan Beck, are co-pastors at the Mukilteo church where the meeting will take place. John Beck said he began getting questions from church members soon after they received the postcard about the mosque. A number of parishioners said, “We want to do something; how can we help?” he said.

Khan suggested it was time for a community meeting on the mosque and the Pointe of Grace agreed to act as host.

“It’s all about relationships — Christians and Muslims will take the next step in meeting one another and hear one another’s stories,” John Beck said.

Wednesday’s event will be moderated by the Rev. Terry Kyllo, who leads St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Marysville, but also has ties to the Lutheran Church.

Kyllo has helped organize nine “Love in a Time of Fear” events in the Puget Sound region.

The events, held on behalf of Lutherans and Episcopalians, had a goal of bringing greater understanding between Muslims and Christians. The nine events were held in cities from Ferndale to Des Moines, attended by 1,800 people.

“I’m hoping to continue to do this work to build bridges between Muslims and Christians,” Kyllo said. “We’ve only just begun.”

Paul Ingram, an emeritus professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University, will give an overview of the Muslim faith. H.I. Syed Abbas Ayleya, of Lynnwood’s Nainab Center of Greater Seattle, a Muslim mosque, also will participate in the meeting.

Khan said that the ongoing controversy over the mosque has created tensions in the city. Muslim families have become afraid, he said. Some no longer jog or walk along city streets. Some may talk about their fears at Wednesday’s meeting, he said.

Khan, a Boeing engineer who ran for city council last year, said he is usually greeted warmly in public. “I’m proud to live in Mukilteo,” he said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Khan said he expects to provide a timeline for construction of the mosque, which he said he hopes can begin in the fall.

Wednesday’s meeting will provide people an opportunity for more information on the project, he said.

“If anyone has questions, concerns, this is a good time to ask,” Khan said.

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

A meeting where people can learn more about the planned Islamic Center of Mukilteo as well as the Muslim faith is scheduled at 7 p.m. May 25 at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church, 5425 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo. Speakers include Mohammed Riaz Khan, president of the planned mosque and Paul Ingram, an emeritus Pacific Lutheran University religion professor. The meeting will include a question-and-answer session on the mosque.

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