Meeting invites dialogue about Islam

Hundreds attend mostly peaceful forum at Mukilteo church
By Brandon Gustafson | Feb 01, 2017
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Nearly 200 people filled Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church for a town hall-style meeting put on by the group planning to construct the Islamic Center of Mukilteo. Here, the audience listens as Rev. Terry Kyllo talks about not confusing religions and cultures. Kyllo noted, for example, that America has never had a female president, while some Muslim-majority countries have.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries as well as all refugees, nearly 200 people gathered Jan. 28 in Mukilteo for a forum on the tenets of Islam and its place in the community.

“We are less than 24 hours removed from an executive order being signed that allows only Christians to come from these seven countries,” guest speaker and co-organizer Rev. Terry Kyllo told an audience at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church, adding that such actions are fueled by a growing sense of Islamaphobia in the U.S.

“More than $57 million has gone toward funding Islamophobia in the U.S. between 2001 and 2012. Islamophobia preaches that Muslims aren’t American, that they are terrorists, that Islam is a violent ideology and that Islam is planning to take over America.”

The event was a partnership between the church and members of the Islamic Center of Mukilteo, which plans to build a mosque in Mukilteo. It featured six guest speakers who discussed peaceful messages in Islam.

Mohammed Khan, the man in charge of the mosque project, gave an update on the project, saying construction would begin as soon as the city issues a land-use permit.

After the meeting, Khan was smiling.

“I feel wonderful,” he said. “It was great. A lot of people showed up. People have questions, and we have answers.”

Members of the audience listened respectfully throughout most of the meeting. Toward the end, however, a handful of people began asking questions about whether the speakers follow Sharia Law and how the Islamic Center would handle a suspected terrorist in their midst.

Toward the end, a few of those people, who had expressed support for President Trump’s executive order earlier in the meeting, became disruptive, yelling across the room.

That’s when Kyllo closed out the meeting by leading the audience in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Despite the hostility of a few, Kyllo said he appreciated the audience.

“It was a wonderful turnout,” he said. “We must have had 175 to 200 people here, and it was a really good crowd. They listened well. We had some good questions toward the end and there was some debate going on, but I felt everyone handled it all pretty well, really.”

Paul Kramer of Mukilteo said he came to the meeting to show his support for the mosque project. After the meeting, he said he wished those who posed hostile questions would have kept a more open mind.

“There were people who were asking questions, [people] that seemed to me to have very strong, rigid opinions that made it difficult for them to hear or listen,” Kramer said. “I would have liked to see people ask questions from a place of curiosity and openness to learning.”

Kramer said he wants Mukilteo to be a healthy, robust community that welcomes Muslims.

“I would like to see us create a community where it’s safe for Muslims and non-Muslims to live here,” he said. “I would like to see a welcoming and diverse community here in Mukilteo.”

Kyllo said Christians and Muslims have more in common than some may realize.

“A woman 2,000 years ago wore a hijab,” he said. “Who was that woman? Mary, Jesus’ mother.”

Kyllo is the director of Neighbors in Faith, a group that works to bring people of different faiths together by leading sermons and discussions in churches throughout the northwest.

Kyllo noted that Muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have had female presidents, unlike the U.S.

“Don’t confuse religion with culture,” he said.

Other speakers included Paul Ingram, a professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, who talked about the similarities between Christianity, Judaism and Islam, especially with regard to their respective holy books.

“We are all in this together,” Ingram said. “There are more similarities between the three religions than there are differences.”

Amanda Smith, a convert to Islam who teaches elementary Arabic in Kirkland, also spoke.

“You may think this is a weird name for a Muslim,” Smith said. “That’s because I’m a white girl from Utah.”

Smith spoke at length about how Muslims are not violent like many believe, saying Islam is a peaceful religion and that’s what drew her to it.

“We are not all violent people,” she said. “I, as a Muslim, don’t feel I have the right to blow up a building to get you to see my beliefs.”

The guest speakers stayed at the church after the meeting to answer audience questions, which came both from people expressing support for the mosque and those who expressed opposition.

“Let [Trump] build the walls,” Khan said. “We will build the bridges. Muslims and Christians are brothers and sisters. Change will only come if we work together.”

Comments (4)
Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Feb 01, 2017 23:47

Regarding the executive order, there are some mistruths stated in this article.  Simply put, the executive order in question puts a freeze on immigration and travel into the United States from seven countries that are either historically and currently supporters and a funding source for the Islamic jihad, or has actors committing terrorism throughout their population, and we simply cannot fully trust the alleged refugees coming here from those countries to not be a part of that jihad effort.  The “ban” is a 120 day program, in order to get Homeland Security and vetting proper vetting in line.  The executive order does not just allow Christians to enter from these countries.  This is a false statement.  Another non truth.  Granted, these countries are primarily Muslim, but also consist of Christians, Yazidis, and other minority religious groups.

It is not a "Muslim" ban...there are many other countries, primarily Muslim, that are not included on the ban.

My father is a 20 year military man, retired.  I grew up in the military during the Vietnam war.  I have patriotism for America, for our Country, for our President and for our laws and Homeland Security.

Mr. Khan seems to get the spotlight on the Beacon lately, and uses it as a means to self promote and speak out against our president, our national security.  I also dispute the figures and allegation, that $57M has gone towards supporting Islamophobia in the US.

e main reason for the border security between Mexico and the US in heroin, black heroin.  America is becoming a heroin epidemic.  An estimated 90-120 billion in drug cartel money, goes back to Mexico each year.  It's not a religion thing, it's a national security thing.  How about the 5 year old girl who was raped by an illegal in California who had assumed many different alias names.  American's have a right to be protected, and free of criminal violence from illegals.




Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Feb 02, 2017 00:03

False hate crime reports are also fueling racism....reverse racism.  Like the New York City college student Yasmin Seweid who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime by Trump supporters is under arrest and charged with filing a false report. The 18-year-old Seweid caused quite the media stir with her sensationalized account of Trump supporters attacking her on the subway. She claimed three men attempted to pull off her hijab while calling her a terrorist and yelling Trump’s name. All this happened, she said, while New Yorkers sat idly by and watched her get assaulted. She admitted that she made it up, because of family issues.  Basically, she was her curfew.  This justifies slander of the President and his supporters?  In my mind, this is worse than racism.  Making false claims about racism.



Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Feb 05, 2017 01:48

According to this article, "Mohammed Khan, the man in charge of the mosque project, gave an update on the project, saying construction would begin as soon as the city issues a land-use permit."

According to another article from January 25, 2016, "planning manager David Osaki said. that the city has yet to receive a building permit application for the mosque."

Before being approved, an application must be received.

And as addressed in my earlier comment, the Executive order is not a Muslim ban...however, 16 predominantly Muslim countries, ban Jews from Israel from entering these countries, including 6 of the 7 countries on the Executive order ban.  How is it justified, that predominantly Muslim countries can ban Jewish people from Israel from entering into their countries?  Not only that, but Christians, Yazidis and other minority religious groups are persecuted, murdered, tortured.  These are valid questions.




Posted by: Fred Taylor | Feb 10, 2017 12:34

Lynn McKinney; thank you for your excellent post.

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