SEATTLE - Hundreds of Washington State Muslims are planning to march together to the Capitol Building, meet state lawmakers in their offices and urge their legislators to speak out against Islamophobic rhetoric and hate crimes.
"This event will provide an opportunity for Muslims from the majority of our state's legislative districts to learn more about the political process and to meet their elected representatives," said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari.
"Legislators should take action during this crucial year to allocate funds to preserve critical services for the most vulnerable in our society."
At the march, planned as part of the annual event, "Washington State Muslims Day at the Capitol," some 400 Washington state Muslims are scheduled to meet with dozens of their elected representatives.
Organized by the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the event, to be held January 16, is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.
It is designed to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his defense of civil rights through positive civic engagement.
Muslim voters attending the event will represent 33 of the 49 state legislative districts.
Participants will urge legislators to take action on other issues, including preserving critical public programs and having a balanced approach to the state budget.
They will present legislators and their staff with a copy of the English translation of the Quran, Islam's holy text.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as radicalization of US Muslims.
Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as occupiers' of American neighborhoods.
Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
Marching to the Capitol, Muslims will provide information about recent anti-Muslim incidents, urging their legislators to speak out against Islamophobic rhetoric and hate crimes.
"We have witnessed 10 anti-Muslim hate crimes in the Northwest in just the past year, which should be serious cause for concern and corrective action, Bukhari stated.
Muslim constituents will work to make lawmakers aware of the growing problem of Islamophobia and of the veiled and camouflaged manner in which it is being promoted.
He added the increase in Islamophobic rhetoric and an accompanying spike in bias incidents is another issue of great concern to the state's Muslim community.
It is imperative that local and national leaders speak out and condemn the growing level of anti-Muslim prejudice and work with their Muslim constituents and their allies to oppose this promotion of bigotry against minorities, whatever the source."
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.