Arson at Bellevue Mosque Reveals Beauty of Social Media

It was a typical Saturday morning. After feeding, dressing and playing with my kiddos, I took a brain break on Facebook. A friend posted a news article “Fire burns Eastside mosque: one arrested“. I clicked on the link. My heart sank deep into my chest.

mosque

I have connections to this mosque although I have never attended. During September and October, I was a substitute teacher at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington. I built strong relationships with my students, many of whom attend this mosque with their families and/or are part of the Muslim community living near this mosque.

Second, I lived and worked in Dubai during the 2009-2010 school year at an all girls American school teaching World History to 9th & 10th grade students. Coincidentally, there was another Seattle native working at this school as a math teacher in the Middle School in the same building. We worked together and I enjoyed conversing with her on occasion. When I moved back to Seattle in 2014, I looked her up. She is still teaching and has kids now. I texted her upon learning about the fire at the Bellevue mosque. She replied and said, WOW! Thanks for your text. I just read the news. It was at this mosque where for three years she studied Islam while converting to Islam. I hated being the barer of such bad news. After exchanging text messages regarding the mosque, we made plans to reconnect since we had not seen one another for over a year (thanks to being busy working Moms)!

Last, the news article describing the details of the mosque burning in the wee hours on early Saturday morning included a link where people could go to donate money, an online fundraiser. On Saturday afternoon, the campaign had raised around $45,000 and checking back on Sunday, the amount was up to $150,000. Community members visited the mosque and many left balloons and flowers.

image-maria

This sad and tragic news event has made me recognize the beauty in technology. It was through Facebook (social media) that I learned about the event. I immediately connected with my Muslim-American friends in the Seattle area through text messaging to process the event. I witnessed substantial generosity flowing to the mosque and Bellevue Muslim community through online news articles and observed donations pouring in through an online fundraising campaign that I imagine gave immediate hope. All of these tools represent our ability to use technology in a positive light.

*Images courtesy of Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times

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