Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to a gathering at the Abu-Bakr Islamic Center in Tukwila on Friday. Abdirisak Ahmed (Mahad), the center’s director, middle, and Shiekh Ahmed Nur, Iman of the center, right, listen. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Inslee visits Islamic center, delivers message of hope and understanding

Feeling under the weather and running behind schedule, Gov. Jay Inslee found warmth at a Tukwila mosque Friday afternoon.

Inslee, wife Trudi and his entourage briefly visited the Abu-Bakr Islamic Center of Washington to deliver a message of hope and understanding.

The timely visit comes a day after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favor of Washington state, maintaining the suspension of President Donald Trump’s executive order on Muslim immigration. The decision means that a stay preventing a ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries remains in place, at least for now. The ruling came after the three-judge panel heard arguments this week from the Justice Department and Washington state.

The ruling is a win for all people, regardless of religion, and supports the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution, Inslee emphatically told the gathering Friday.

“This has been a personal joy for me,” he said. “It has been a painful thing for many of your brothers and sisters who have gone through very difficult days because of the executive order of the president.

“But this is democracy at work,” Inslee said. “The single most beautiful thing about the state of Washington is that we believe in justice for all people. We must protect the freedom of all religions, for Baptists, for Jews, for Sikhs, for Hindus, for Muslims … for all sects, for all people, whatever their beliefs are, and for nonbelievers.”

The legal fight will likely continue to the U.S. Supreme Court, Inslee and the state’s legal team acknowledge, but Thursday’s ruling gives the Muslim community some hope, they said.

“The governor is a champion,” Abdirisak Ahmed (Mahad), the center’s director, said to cheers from the crowd. “Since all this started, the governor was everywhere. … The other day he welcomed the person who was deported and came back again. … He stood up to the administration.”

Shiekh Ahmed Nur, Iman of the Abu-Baker Islamic Center, embraced Inslee’s efforts.

“On behalf of the whole Muslim community, I want to thank Gov. Inslee for standing up for justice when it really matters … for standing up for the minorities, the Muslim people.”

The center, off Tukwila International Boulevard, has served thousands of Muslims since it opened in 2009. About 400 youths come through the center each week for cultural learning and other programs and more than 2,000 people attend prayer each Friday, according to center officials.

Inslee took a moment to praise the center and the work of its followers.

“I want to thank you for being an important part of your community,” Inslee said. “Your children are doing great work in schools … your kids are doing great work in athletics. You are caring for our people in hospitals. You are doing research. You are designing Boeing airplanes.

“We do know that we are a resilient country,” Inslee added. “We can overcome fear. We know that fear can be a powerful force. But we know compassion, love and understanding and common sense and a little bit of courage can lead (us to become) a more blessed community.”