County Council condemns intolerance, supports religious freedom
|Councilmembers join the audience at the Tukwila Community Center after the council read a proclamation condemning both acts of violence against the Muslim community, and religious intolerance against all seeking to exercise their faith|
They are your co-workers, friends and neighbors. They serve in the military, are in law enforcement and work in King County government. They are Muslims, a faith with over 1-billion worshipers, and they are increasingly under attack.
Responding to the growing acts of religious intolerance not only in King County, but around the world, the Metropolitan King County Council today condemned acts of violence against those exercising their constitutionally protected right to worship. The proclamation recognizes the killing of 50 worshipers inside two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 by a self-proclaimed white nationalist.
The proclamation highlights that Islam is the world’s second largest religion with over 3 million worshipers in the U.S. The proclamation also recognizes the increase of anti-Muslim hate crimes both nationally and within the state of Washington. The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) received 438 claims of religious discrimination in Washington in 2017.
The proclamation calls on county residents to stand together as a community against Islamophobia and all forms of hate and violence.
“As Americans, we share a foundational value of religious freedom, regardless of our background or heritage. It is a civil right, guaranteed and protected by our Constitution. The diversity of faiths and religions in our country is what unites us, not divides us.”
--Council Chair Rod Dembowski
“Today, the King County Council takes a stand for religious freedom and against Islamophobia, while also recognizing the contributions of Muslim Americans across the nation, and also in King County. As scientists, scholars, soldiers, and so many countless other professions, Muslim Americans are a vital part of our community.”
--Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci
“Today I stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in King County and across the world, while I mourn for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand. I am committed to safeguarding and celebrating religious freedom and expression in King County, where everyone is welcome no matter their religious identity, national origin, race or ethnicity. Thank you to our Muslim communities for the strength, love and community that you foster—and know that we are with you.”
--Councilmember Dave Upthegrove
“We in the African American community and other communities of color know too well how hate can result in violence. We must continue to come together to take a stand against Islamophobia especially in our county whose namesake is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We must follow Dr. King’s words, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’”
--Councilmember Larry Gossett
“All too often, our society rushes to stereotype an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. Just as the heinous acts of the Ku Klux Klan do not define the morals of all Christians, the violence instigated by ISIS and other extremists does not define the hearts of all Muslims. As Malcolm X said after his pilgrimage to Mecca, True Islam [teaches] that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete. In King County, we strive to make this human family whole.”
--Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles
“People of all faiths and all beliefs should condemn any act of religious violence in our community and around the world. The free exercise of religion without fear of persecution is a pillar of our society. We must remain united in the understanding that all people are free to live out their faith.”
--Councilmember Kathy Lambert
“The xenophobia spread from the highest office in our country has had devastating, real impacts on real people – our friends, family and neighbors of the Muslim faith. Publicly calling out islamophobia today is an important step. We must continue to reinforce core programs like the Immigrant and Refugee Resilience fund and constantly assess how we are living up to our commitment to being a Welcoming County for all residents.”
--Councilmember Joe McDermott
“The freedom of all people to worship as they choose is an inherent human right and a defining value of our country. Today, I grieve alongside the Muslim community here in King County, across our country, and beyond. People of all faiths, creeds, and religions must stand together as one to condemn religious violence, knowing that we are stronger united than divided.”
--Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn
WHEREAS, Islam is the world’s second largest religion, with over 1.6 billion followers worldwide, including more than three million in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees religious freedom to people of all faiths; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State Constitution provides that “Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion” (Article I Section 11); and
WHEREAS, King County is a diverse region that is home to people of all faiths and backgrounds, including Muslim members of the community who contribute to its civic, economic, cultural and spiritual life; and
WHEREAS, Muslims have served in the Armed Forces of the United States for generations and fought in all major United States conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to present day, with more than 5,000 Muslims currently serving and many having made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our country; and
WHEREAS Muslim scientists and researchers in the United States have helped expand the understanding of medicine, engineering, and outer space; and
WHEREAS Muslim inventors in the United States have made breakthroughs ranging from brain tumor treatments to the creation of the ice cream cone; and
WHEREAS Muslim athletes have represented the United States in the Olympics and in most professional sports leagues; and
WHEREAS Muslim entrepreneurs and business leaders in the United States have helped shape industries including financial services, food, transportation, cosmetics, and furniture; and
WHEREAS countless Muslims contribute to the economy and well-being of the United States as business owners, firefighters, police officers, first responders, physicians, laborers, service workers, and teachers; and
WHEREAS Muslims have served as Members of Congress, Ambassadors of the United States, and other types of public servants; and
WHEREAS, Islamophobia has been on the rise in the United States with anti-Muslim hate crimes increasing nationally by 15% in 2017, including in Washington where the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) received 438 claims of religious discrimination in 2017; and
WHEREAS, on March 15, 2019, a self-proclaimed white nationalist brutally attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he killed at least 50 Muslims and injured at least another 50; and
WHEREAS, the King County Council recognizes the need to stand together as a community against Islamophobia and all forms of hate and violence;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, condemn
in the strongest terms, recognize the religious freedom of Muslims and their valuable civic contributions to King County and the State of Washington, and renew our commitment to building a safe, welcoming community for all.
DATED this twenty-seventh day of March, 2019.