Earlier this month, community leaders, including Densho director Tom Ikeda, gathered at Redmond’s Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) mosque to dedicate a new sign, replacing one that had been destroyed in a hate crime. The leaders pressed their hands into cement at the base of the new sign, symbolizing their commitment to stand by MAPS and its congregation of some 5,000 families. On Saturday morning, the sign outside the mosque was vandalized for a second time in a month. “To come over here and see it personally myself, it’s gut-wrenching,” said MAPS executive director Aneelah Afzali. “It really hurts.”
Recognizing that this act was part of a spike in post-election hate crimes, Democratic leaders declared Washington a Hate Free State on Monday.
Seeing parallels with the persecution of Japanese Americans during WWII, the Densho community takes its commitment to stand with our Muslim neighbors seriously and messages of support for MAPS have come from near and far.
Messages of Support from Densho Community Members to the Muslim Association of Puget Sound
From Pasadena, California, I, a third generation Japanese American, send you my support. Please know that we stand with you, and want you to know that you are not alone.
My 94-year-old dad, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, lived through the WWII incarceration. He knows what you are going through.
Recently, he made a public statement in support of Muslim Americans. I share it with you now:
“WE ARE DETERMINED THAT THIS SHAMEFUL ACT WOULD NOT BE REPEATED ON ANY PERSON OR ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE AGAIN.
THE THREAT OF A REGISTRY FOR MUSLIMS IS AN OMINOUS SIGN. IT MUST BE AN AWFUL TIME OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY. WE FEEL FOR YOU. BUT STAY STRONG. IF POSSIBLE, SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND HOW TO DEFEND THEM. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS AND REMEMBER THAT PROTEST IS A LEGITIMATE AMERICAN TRADITION.
WE, JAPANESE AMERICANS WILL STAND BY YOU AND SUPPORT YOU IN ANY WAY WE CAN.”
Nov. 22, 2016
Dear Muslim Association of Puget Sound:
I have seen recent news of the vandalism to your stone sign and I was shocked and saddened. The recent dedication, with Densho, of the new sign was inspiring. However, that feeling of sadness returned once I saw that the sign had been re-vandalized. Please know that, as a Japanese American whose family was incarcerated during WWII, I understand your fear and uncertainty. Please know that you are not alone and this act does not represent the majority of Americans.
Sarah Takasugi, Esq.
I’m sending a wish of peace for all of our neighbors. -Gretel Enck
Dear MAPS, please know that this yonsei US citizen condemns these hateful acts. Further, while I am not in your area, I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to help protect your rights as fellow citizens. -Robin Blank
The vandalism and other hate crimes against the Muslim community are deplorable and must not be tolerated in this country. We must be respectful and accepting of all our citizens’ cultural beliefs and practices. -Joya Heart
To our Muslim brothers and sisters, please know how proud we Japanese Americans are to be part of a community we share with you, and how determined we are to always stand by your side. -Vince Schleitwiler
From this Sansei writer, please know that we Japanese Americans stand in solidarity with you. We will continue to speak up. -Tamiko Nimura
I admire the Muslim Assoc. of Puget Sound and Mr. Ikeda for creating and maintaining this project. If there is any way for people to support long distance, please let us all know. Thank you. -Sayo Fujioka
To my Muslim brothers and sisters…I’m so sorry for this hateful attack. You are welcome here, and I will stand for you! -Sarah Mattox
I stand with you! -Grant Nakamura
Japanese Americans stand by our Muslim American brothers and sisters to denounce hate crimes such as this. -Pam Okano
We are with you. You are not alone. -Karin Zaugg Black
I’m sorry this happened. This is terrible and these kinds of things are not what we want for you, our friends and neighbors. You belong here. -Mariesa Bus
If you would like to add your own message of support, we invite you to comment on this post or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Blog header: The Muslim Association of Puget Sound in Redmond. Photo by Varisha Khan for The Seattle Globalist.]