20 Aug US Senator Patty Murray Visits MAPS
Assalamu Alaykum Everybody / Peace be upon you,
This past Thursday we were honored to host the senior United States Senator from Washington, Patty Murray, at MAPS. Senator Murray has a long and proven record of service to our state and our nation. She has served four terms representing Washingtonians and is currently the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the US Senate. Senator Murray has chaired various Senate committees and has been very effective addressing education, healthcare, veterans and women issues. Senator Murray has also broken several glass ceilings – she is the first female Senator from our state and is presently the highest ranking woman in the US Senate.
A few of MAPS leaders and representative members of our community introduced Senator Murray to our center and to our community. MAPS President, Mahmood Khadeer, explained that MAPS serves the Islamic needs of 5000 local families hailing from over 40 countries. He explained that the organization’s vision is pivoted on 4 cornerstones: Faith, Outbound Good, Inbound Good and Model Citizen. We spent time, in particular, outlining our Outbound Good programs – initiatives that MAPS volunteers have undertaken to make a difference in our city and our state. We gave the examples of the social work being done by MAPS-MCRC: from feeding the homeless to hosting free health clinics to spending time with the elderly. We talked about the interfaith and outreach efforts by MAPS-IOC. We explained how MAPS-NOW is engaged with WTA to repair park trails, clean highway strips and keep the state beautiful. We mentioned MAPS-TAG and other groups hosting free technical classes for the broad public. The Senator was impressed by the number, scope and impact of these outreach programs.
We spent time talking about some of the biggest challenges facing Washington. We discussed gun violence, drug problems and homelessness. We explained to the Senator that many Muslims at the bottom of the economic ladder are facing the pinch of rising real estate prices and rent. We explained how on the eve of Eid, 725 families collected zakat (charity) at MAPS. A small assistance goes a long way to help those in need in our community. We discussed the plight of refugees and the challenges they face and how our whole community came together to assist those escaping war atrocities and seeking safe harbor in our state.
We explained to the Senator that MAPS expressly made the decision to accelerate these community facing activities to combat the dual problems facing the Muslim community: that of ISIS and Islamophobia. Muslims worldwide remain twice victims of terrorism: first as casualties, like the 72 murdered outside a hospital in Pakistan earlier this month and second as victims of collective guilt due to the acts of a few. We also discussed the growing concern of Islamophobia in the wake of yet one more week when an Imam and his assistant were killed in New York and an Arab man killed in Oklahoma and how hateful political rhetoric in an election season breeds racism.
Senator Murray has always championed the true American values of diversity, inclusion and equality. She reached out to MAPS when we had the threat incident last Ramadan. Over the years members of her staff have attended many of our events and programs. She committed to always stand by our community whenever our rights are trampled or when our security is threatened. We will also be sending Senator Murray candidates from our Youth group to be considered for internship in her office here in Washington and in DC.
In the 1980s, Patty Murray then a parent went to Olympia to advocate for a local preschool program and was told by a state politician that she “couldn’t make a difference”. She responded by organizing a coalition of 13,000 parents and saved the program, joined a school board, was elected to the Washington State Senate and now is completing her fourth term in the US Senate. To all of us who are often told that we “couldn’t make a difference” – whether because we are a minority or young or women or immigrants – Senator Murray’s own career is an inspiring model. We were truly honored to host her last week.