As the organizer of the refugee potluck luncheon that Reece Rose referenced in her letter in the Saturday edition of The Record, “Will Muslim culture damage Whidbey’s?” I feel I need to respond and clear up the misunderstanding that she wrote about.
I did send an email to attendees explaining some cultural sensitivity items for them to be aware of. I feel that when inviting guests from another culture to your home that is the polite thing to do. I certainly had no intention of requiring the City of Langley to enforce a “no touching” rule that day and I never suggested that Whidbey islanders not hug their friends! I merely pointed out that in the Muslim culture people of the opposite sex don’t hug or shake hands. I asked attendees also to donate money to help with the expense our guests incurred renting vans to travel here. These are people who have lost everything to war before arriving here. All purely optional.
I’m not sure what damage to “our community as it now exists” Ms. Rose was referring to, or what her reference to the LGBTQ and sanctuary city were supposed to imply. If she had questions she could have emailed me to have a conversation, but for some reason decided to take it up in the local paper.
One of my goals with the South Whidbey Refugee Project is to encourage greater understanding and appreciation of people from other cultures through friendship and conversation. I invite Ms. Rose to open her heart, put her fear aside and do that.