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Capitol Hill Community Council holding benefit for Bellevue mosque damaged in fire

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-8-12-45-pmNext week, the Capitol Hill Community Council is expanding its neighborhood borders to help the Islamic Center of the Eastside in Bellevue, which is raising money to rebuild after a January arson attack.

“We wanted to really dedicate our time and basically give our space to other folks in our community that are hurting or being targeted,” said CHCC president Zachary DeWolf.

While the ICOE may not be located on Capitol Hill or in Seattle, DeWolf said a benefit hosted by CHCC on February 23 is a way to stand in solidarity with not only the ICOE but also the Muslim community in the neighborhood.

While attacks on the Muslim community have been seen nationwide, so has support for Muslims, said Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Seattle.

Beyond the support, Bukhari said educating others, whether it’s talking to someone or writing a letter to the editor, to see American Muslims as neighbors is an important action people can take.

“The key thing is to know that American Muslims deserve the same opportunities as all Americans,” Bukhari said.

Arshad Ahmad and Shams Pirbhai from ICOE will speak at the benefit, providing attendees some insight into what it’s like to be a Muslim under the new administration. Mamnoon, the Melrose Ave Middle Eastern restaurant run by Wassef and Racha Haroun, will be providing food for the event. Wassef recently spoke to CHS about his views on President Donald Trump’s blocked immigration ban.

The benefit will be held from 6 to 8 PM on Thursday at The Summit, 400 E Pike.

The event is also a preview of sorts for an in-the-works event centered on a larger interfaith conversation as part of an effort by community groups and churches to make Capitol Hill a sanctuary neighborhood.

Those who can’t make it to next week’s benefit, but want to donate can do so here.

As of Thursday evening, more than $422,000 had been raised. The damaged caused by the fire on January 14th will cost an estimated $500,000. Isaac Wayne Wilson, 37, was arrested for setting fire to the ICOE, Bukhari said there are no indications of a hate motive, but the suspect may have been suffering from a mental illness. In the months leading up to the fire, the ICOE experienced numerous acts of vandalism. In 2015 alone, 35 hate crimes were reported to the local CAIR.

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