After a fire on January 14 almost completely destroyed a mosque in Bellevue, WA, many local churches offered space for the community to pray. The nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has offered a large room for the purpose. “It’s really very simple,” Church Director of Public Affairs Gordon Wilson told KOMO 4 TV. “It’s just neighbors helping neighbors. Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor.’ They’re right next door. How can it be more obvious than that?”
The Islamic Center of Eastside was partially destroyed by an act of arson on January 14. A homeless man who had previously caused altercations at the mosque has confessed, been arrested, and charged with second degree arson. It is not believed to have been a hate crime, although the number of attacks on Muslim communities in the Puget Sound area and across the country has been rising in recent months. Varisha Khan, a senior at the University of Washington who grew up at Eastside and was still a member there said, “this did not happen in a vacuum,” she said. “This mosque itself, it’s received threats. Hate speech does inspire attacks.”
Police and firefighters were on the scene of the fire quickly, and were able to rescue many of the holy texts in the building. Imam Faizel Hassan expressed gratitude for their speedy response. No one was in the building when the fire started. The community of Bellevue has been vocal in its support of their Muslim neighbors; Mayor John Stokes of Bellevue said, “We want our Muslim brothers and sisters to know we stand with them,”
The Islamic Center of Eastside is raising money through LaunchGood, an Islamic GoFundMe style website, to rebuild their space.