Use of Explosive a 'Cause for Concern,' Says Member of Islamic Center of Olympia

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A social secretary for the Islamic Center of Olympia said Friday that a recent explosion outside the center was a cause for concern to the surrounding residents, many of whom are Cambodian Muslim refugees from the Pol-Pot/Khmer-Rouge era of the war-torn 1970s and 80s.

Mustafa Mohamedali said that when viewed in isolation the incident may not seem like a big deal, but in a larger context there has been a rise in arson attacks and vandalism on mosques, temples and minority churches in Western Washington just in the past few months.

"An appropriate response is needed to inhibit future such acts and assure communities like ours that we are able to practice our faith, or any faith, or no faith, freely and without the fear of intimidation or violence, because we belong here," he said.

About 11:20 p.m. Nov. 23 someone in a car dropped an item with a burning fuse in front of the center at 4324 20th Lane NE in Olympia.

The device exploded and could be heard from people living two miles away, according to the Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which issued a news release Thursday about the incident.

Thurston County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to the scene, but no persons or property were harmed.

According to KOMO News, the Thurston County Sheriff's Office said it was a firework of some kind with no indications it was a device or bomb.

TCSO could not be reached by The Olympian for further information Friday afternoon.

CAIR Washington partnered with Interfaith Works and the American Muslim Empowerment Network in an act of solidarity with the Islamic Center of Olympia on Friday.

The groups called for a peaceful gathering in front of the center before and during Friday prayers.