REDMOND, Wash. – Among the many writings on the walls inside the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) are the last four parts of the Quran.
"God, protect us from any kind of rat or bad deed," Mahmood Khadeer, president of MAPS, explained of one portion of the Quran. "In Islam, you can ask God for the protection to protect everybody. But you have to take your own steps.
The issue of protection has been more prevalent recently at MAPS, after its sign was destroyed by a vandal twice in two months. The most recent attack was December 20.
"If somebody attacks the institution's sign, it is an attack on Muslims here," said Khadeer, "An attack on our lifestyle."
Leaders in the Muslim community acknowledge some recent immigrants are fearful of law enforcement, based on their experience in their previous country. Tuesday, MAPS hosted a forum with police chiefs from every Eastside city.
"To feel like, no, you should trust the police," said Mohamed Bakr with the Muslim Community and Neighborhood Association, which helped organize the event.
"We've received a couple of complaints from a couple of sisters," he continued, "Females who are really scared now."
Similar forums have taken place on a smaller scale in Bellevue, with positive results.
"People feel more comfortable now," said Bakr, "They feel more safe."
"When you're dealing with the immigrant population or various religious groups," said Redmond Police Chief Kristi Wilson, "There has been a disconnect between law enforcement and the community.
"It's super important to bridge that gap," she added.
As for the MAPS sign, Khadeer said it will be replaced sometime this week.
"These are our steps to work with law enforcement and do what, as a human, you need to do," he said of the forum, "Leave the rest to God and put his blessings on it."