Explosive set off outside Islamic Center of Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Community groups are standing with the Islamic Center of Olympia Friday after someone set off an explosion there last month.

Surveillance video released by the Council on American Islamic Relations — or CAIR —shows a car slow down in front of the building and something drops from the window, which then explodes as the car speeds off.

The incident happened Nov. 23 at 11:23 p.m. People living as far as two miles away reported hearing the explosion.

“There have been protests with people outside the mosque with hateful banners, screaming just hateful vitriolic things just as a show of like disrespect to the community. I’m not saying it’s tied into this specific attack, but there’s this sense of impunity when it comes to islamophobia in this country. It’s almost as if there’s a sense that, ‘if I express anti Muslim bigotry, if I express some violent rhetoric toward Muslims, I’m not going to get punished for it,’” executive director of CAIR Washington Imraan Siddiqi said.

Thurston County deputies were dispatched to the scene. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged in the explosion but leaders at the center said that doesn’t make it less serious.

CAIR Washington released a statement on Thursday that read in part:

“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 fear or intimidation or violence, because we belong here!”

The explosion was at least the eighth incident in the last few months where a crime has been committed at a place of worship.

In October, someone started a fire inside the Islamic Center of Tacoma while people worshipped inside. A few weeks earlier, a mosque in Mountlake Terrace was vandalized.

Police made arrests in both cases.

CAIR Washington and several other groups are calling for a peaceful gathering in front of the Olympia center before and during prayers on Friday.

The gathering is slated to happen at 11:45 a.m. and last through the midday prayer until 1 p.m.

There may be a brief meet and greet in the center’s community hall afterward.