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By David Pan 

Community celebrates groundbreaking for mosque

Residents, government officials praise work of Islamic Center of Mukilteo


Last updated 3/17/2021 at 11:58am

David Pan

Rep. Rick Larsen (D–2nd District) formally cuts the ribbon to celebrate the groundbreaking of Mukilteo's first mosque Saturday, March 6. Mayor Jennifer Gregerson (left) and the executive board of the Islamic Center of Mukilteo also joined the festivities.

They came to celebrate.

And there was a lot to celebrate.

The words of a speaker reverberated throughout the crowd – Freedom prevailed over failure. Faith defeated fear. Love proved to be more powerful than hate.

Residents of all races and religions from Mukilteo and surrounding communities basked in the glow of success Saturday, March 6, as the ground was broken for what will be the city's first mosque.

It's been a long and eventful journey for Riaz Khan, a city councilmember and president of the Islamic Center of Mukilteo, the organization building the mosque. The group purchased the land at 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd. in 2014, and the project was formally approved by the city in November 2020. In between there were numerous delays, conflicts and issues with the project.

The proposed mosque faced controversy in 2016 when business owner Peter Zieve launched a postcard campaign raising concerns about the construction of the mosque that one speaker described as an attempt to rile neighbors up against their fellow neighbors in opposition to a religious space for the Muslim community.

But with Saturday's groundbreaking, supporters of the new mosque declared victory.

"Today is truly a celebration. Today is a blessed and beautiful day for all of us," said Aneelah Afzali, executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network. "It also is a day of victory, a victory of American ideals and fundamental freedoms. Today we celebrate the achievement of religious freedom and diversity here in this beautiful town and in our country because when a group or an individual is able to exercise their freedoms, their rights in our country, we all win as Americans."

Khan was overwhelmed by the show of support in the community, which included politicians, judges and other leaders of faith.

"This project is close to my heart," Khan said.

Six years ago, some people thought that the idea of a mosque in Mukilteo was a joke, he said.

But Khan never wavered in his hope.

Construction on the mosque is scheduled to start in May. The two-story building will be 3,796 square feet and will feature an assembly/prayer area, multipurpose room, offices, kitchen, two classrooms and restrooms. The parking lot will have 26 spaces. The cost for the building, which will be situated on a 30,000-square-foot lot next to Bank of America, will be under $1 million, and Khan expects construction to be completed in a year or two.

"This mosque is going to support Mukilteo, all the cities, counties, states, America and the world," Khan said. "The mosque belongs to everybody."

The main congregation of an estimated 100 people will meet on Fridays for afternoon prayers, and smaller groups will gather the rest of the week.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D–2nd District) praised the efforts of the Muslim community in Mukilteo, especially for responding to those individuals who wanted to instill fear and division in the community.

The ugliness in recent years has been an eye-opener for Larsen.

"But it has made our community stronger as a whole as well," he said. "We can all enjoy and celebrate that. ... This mosque is going to strengthen the fabric of Snohomish County, of our economy, of our society, of our democracy. This mosque will be a representation, like all houses of worship usually are, of the broad diversity that we have in our communities. And it's a great addition to the broad diversity of our communities.

"We need to break down barriers and create opportunities for everyone to participate in our society, and in our communities as well."

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson echoed Larsen's comments.

"It's such a great symbol of the welcoming spirit of Mukilteo, and how all diverse faiths are welcome in our town, and I look forward to future events and opportunities to learn from one another."

Mukilteo Councilmember Joe Marine noted that almost 250 years ago an experiment was started with a new government based on freedom, the paramount of which was freedom of religion.

"We are very happy to see that is going strong, and especially here in Mukilteo," he said.

Rev. Terry Kyllo, director of Paths to Understanding, urged the audience to remember the millions of people who have been killed in genocide because some people said that others weren't fully human. Words spoken about groups of people based on blame and fear can have real consequences, he said

"We are all vulnerable to that fear."

The religious community joined forced to support their Muslim brothers and sisters to fight for everyone's constitutional values, Kyllo added.

"But we must remember the words on the constitution or any of our laws are just words on paper if we don't hold on to them," he said. "So while today is a great day to be an American because hate and fear and that terrible process of dehumanization has not worked today, we must remember that there is a tomorrow as well, and that all of us here are called and must hold on to those aspirational values and stand with and for each other."

Shaykh Khalid Al-Fallatah, Imam of the Evergreen Islamic Institution in Lynnwood, shared the story of a suicidal man who came to a mosque and eventually turned his life around. The man is now a successful businessman in the Seattle area.

He described Saturday's groundbreaking as planting a seed in the community.

David Pan

Mukilteo Councilmember and Islamic Center of Mukilteo President Riaz Khan speaks to supporters during Saturday's groundbreaking event.

"We are not only building a project, we are also building and supporting and building a human, and building a human is the greatest investment that we can all collaborate," Al-Fallatah said.

He noted that the groundbreaking ceremony lasted about an hour. "But the implications of your presence, your support, will last for many more years to come."

Others in attendance for Saturday's event included Snohomish County Treasurer Brian Sullivan, Snohomish County Councilmember Stephanie Wright, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, Snohomish County Superior Court Judges Edirin Okoloko, Cassandra Lopez-Shaw and Cindy Larsen, Mukilteo City Councilmembers Elisabeth Crawford, Richard Emery and Louis Harris, and Shaykh Mohamed Joban, Imam of Muslim Association of Puget Sound.

For more information about the Islamic Center of Mukilteo, see


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