SAMMAMISH, Wash. — Tragedy as painful as the mosque attacks in New Zealand crosses every border.
“It travels,” said Sarah Kimsey.
The attacks on two mosques, which have been called the deadliest in modern New Zealand history, killed at least 49 people.
In Sammamish on Friday, dozens of people gathered to make sure their Muslim neighbors felt comforted and safe.
“Peace and love,” said Helen Hodges. “We need more of that, don’t you think?”
The crowd lined the sidewalk in front of Sammamish Mosque - sharing signs of support and kind words with the folks attending Friday prayers inside.
“I think it shows compassion, I think it shows leadership,” said Kimsey. “I think it shows tolerance and community spirit that’s really strong here.”
She organized the gathering at the request of mosque leaders. Several Sammamish and Issaquah officers also stood by for extra security.
Ata Bhatti, a leader in the mosque, said he was glad to see all the new faces.
“I think all the events over [in New Zealand] point out a few things – one that those events are not that far away, and that anybody can be a victim,” he said. “It points out that anyone can be an aggressor. And it points out just looking down the line here that anyone can be a supporter and I think we appreciate that.”
The mosque opened their doors for people to experience their worship. Trustee Rehan Bashar said at times like this its critical to help people better understand Islam.
“Everyone is welcome to come inside and see us pray,” he said. “They’re welcome to join us because we are all one.”
And in the message, Alaa Badr discussed the tragedy abroad.
“The inner spirit is what makes us good,” he told the gathered crowd. “And you can have a rotten spirit like those of yesterday, the people that committed those crimes, but you can have a good spirit like those people standing outside. They didn’t have to come stand outside, they didn’t have to do that. That shows there’s goodness in humanity. People are naturally good and it’s the exception that’s evil.”