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Tacoma's religious community gathers to denounce recent vandalism at places of worship

Event organizers pointed to eight instances in the past three months where religious institutions were vandalized from Seattle to Tacoma.

TACOMA, Wash. — Faith leaders of different religions gathered together Sunday inside a Tacoma auditorium to denounce hate.

The interfaith meeting was organized, in part, by the Muslim Association of Puget Sound after a rash of attacks on places of worship across western Washington.

“When your place of worship is attacked, and it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t matter it could be a temple, a mosque, a church – we are all attacked,” said Masjid Umar Al-Farooq, of a mosque in Mountlake Terrace.

Event organizers point to eight instances in the past three months where religious organizations were vandalized from Seattle to Tacoma.

Father Mike McDermott’s church offices were set on fire last Sunday. The priest’s prayers are with the 20-year-old man who is now behind bars.

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“How do we help them show that there is a way to move forward in hope, in peace, so we can dream about a path to a better future,” said McDermott.

In Tacoma, cellphone video captured members of the Islamic Center of Tacoma praying in the parking lot as fire crews worked to knock down flames at a mosque. Investigators untimely arrested a 38-year-old man accused of purposely starting the fire.

Alaa Alshaibami is the mosque's assistant director.

“I think it’s moments like this where we get to come together and to show each other that we are in it together and we care about each other despite what is going on around us,” said Alshaibami.

Sunday's interfaith event brought out many from different religions, all with congregations and members that are only now beginning to meet in person again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acts of hate they experienced serve as a reminder that they are stronger together.

“Even though we are all different, we are all here supporting one another and supporting each other no matter how we show up in the world,” said Alshaibami.

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