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Assuring Mukilteo voice heard

Head of Electroimpact apologizes, clarifies anti-mosque postcard

 

April 20, 2016

Peter Zieve

The head of Electroimpact Inc., who has been linked to a group that opposes the building of a mosque in Mukilteo, this week said he is concerned about the breeding of radicals.

Peter Zieve is the owner and president of the Mukilteo-based company that is a major supplier of tools and assembly lines to aerospace companies including Boeing, Airbus, Xi’an Aircraft of China and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

An anonymous postcard was mailed two weeks ago notifying Mukilteo residents of an Islamic group’s plans to build a mosque; it provided the email address mukilteostaysafe@gmail.com.

The Beacon emailed the provided address and received the following response: The mosque is potentially “dangerous” as it could become a “breeding place for terrorists.”

The city has confirmed that Zieve is linked to the postcard and the email address.

“A resident who received the postcard sent an email to that address and got a reply from Peter Zieve from that address with his name on it,” said Glen Pickus, planning manager for the city.

“That person sent an email to the mayor and a couple of planners. We have that whole email string.”

Zieve on Monday sent the following apology about the postcard and follow-up emails to The Beacon:

“I apologize for the anonymous postcard and for all internal communications that offend,” he wrote in an email. “Nobody that I am in communication with has any actions contemplated or anticipated to slow the mosque application.”

Zieve added that he has asked to meet with Mohammed Riaz Khan, president of the Muslim Association of Seattle, so that he may apologize directly to him.

“I have employees that don’t like what I think or say,” Zieve said. “I am happy that in America we share our thoughts and we still work together.

“I have an employee who preaches to his church that the Jews killed Jesus. This never made any sense to me since Jesus was a Jew. But he works there year after year. I respect his right to an opinion.

“Of the two bosses I have had in my life, both were Muslims. One of them told me repeatedly that he didn’t like Jews. I never remember running to the newspaper. I just shrugged it off, and it wasn’t a factor in me leaving that job.

“I am only concerned about radicals. I hope that they keep out radicals.”

Sisay Desalegn, who also opposes the building of the mosque, said Zieve asked him to speak for the group. He lives in Mukilteo and doesn’t work for Electroimpact.

“If Muslims are in the majority, they will never allow any other religion,” he said. “If there are teachings, people could radicalize. Their ideology is that any other religion should be wiped out. That’s the Islamic extremism.”

Desalegn, who is from Ethiopia, said that he’s seen a Muslim majority burn churches down and harm others because they didn’t follow Islam. He said it’s a problem in Africa, and that he doesn’t want it to happen here.

He said it’s his First Amendment right to share his concerns, and that it shouldn’t be mistaken as prejudice.

“I am honestly, sincerely, questioning,” he said. “We have the right to ask what could be the future with this mosque.”

The Muslim Association of Seattle, which has plans to build the mosque on Harbour Pointe Boulevard, has since called for Boeing and other aerospace companies to boycott Electroimpact for promoting Islamophobia.

“We’re asking Peter to apologize to the community and the Muslim people here,” said Khan, a Mukilteo resident. “The mailing of postcards, the sending emails has created a big mess. We want it to stop.”

He added that Zieve has made it known to the group that he’s opposed to a mosque. The plans for the Islamic Center of Mukilteo have been in the works since 2014.

Khan said he wasn’t surprised by the postcard itself, however, he was shocked to find out that Zieve also has been sending out anti-Muslim emails.

“That was shocking to me, my entire group and the local community,” Khan said. “We’re trying to come up with a solution, because we want to build the mosque with love – not hate.”

Since the postcards were mailed, Khan said he has received phone calls and emails of support from the community.

“It’s been very hard,” he said. “We’re thankful to them for supporting us at this time.”

The Muslim Association of Seattle, which owns property at 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd. SW., has plans to build a two-story 3,796 square-foot mosque next to the Bank of America.

The proposal includes a prayer room, multipurpose room, two offices, a kitchen, restrooms and two classrooms. There is space for 25 parking spots.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said Zieve shared his concerns about the mosque with her last year, and he also hosted community meetings at Electroimpact on the matter.

“We’ve gotten a handful of emails and phone calls that have been mostly split between people who have questions about the Islamic center and others who are bothered by receiving the postcard,” Gregerson said.

Through all the controversy, however, Gregerson has decided to stay out of it.

“I’m really just focusing on the city’s role, which is to process the permit and make sure they’re following our regulations and laws,” she said.

“There’s a First Amendment for a reason. People have a right to exercise their religion. We can’t and won’t discriminate on that.”

Pickus said the Planning Department, which is looking over the project proposal, held off on notifying residents about the mosque until the Islamic group had submitted a revised wetland report. A buffer is needed for a small wetland on the property.

The opposition group with the email address mukilteostaysafe@gmail.com beat the department to it.

He said the city is scheduled to mail its own postcard about mosque plans on April 22.

“With the revised wetland report, it looks like they won’t have to reduce the buffer by more than 50 percent, and that was the trigger for a public hearing,” Pickus said. “So, right now, it looks like that’s going to be an administrative decision.”

More information on the permit process, including all of the group’s submittals about the mosque, are available on the city’s website at http://www.mukilteowa.gov.

 

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