Portland’s Muslim community reacts to MAX attack

2 men died while reportedly defending Muslim women

Harris Zafar with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Portland on May 27, 2017. (KOIN)
Harris Zafar with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Portland on May 27, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Members of the Muslim community in Portland are speaking up after 2 men were killed for reportedly defending Muslim women who were harassed by a man on the MAX. 

Harris Zafar with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said the anti-Muslim fueled attack on May 26 creates concerns for the safety of their community, especially the women. He’s also worried it may empower “copycats.”

Police investigate a stabbing that happened on the MAX near the Hollywood TC on May 26, 2017. (KOIN)
Police investigate a stabbing that happened on the MAX near the Hollywood TC on May 26, 2017. (KOIN)

“My mind was full of shock,” Zafar said. “I felt almost breathless when I heard the news last night.”

Zafar has lived in Portland for 31 years and said this crime doesn’t represent what Portland is about. He also said even the most liberal cities have “bad apples.”

“No matter how open minded and tolerant the city may be, and I think Portland is, it just takes one, one bad apple to ruin it for everyone and there’s no city in the world that doesn’t have a bad apple or apples,” Zafar said.

Along with his shock, Zafar said he felt a “weird mixture” of inspiration from the actions of the victims, Ricky Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Meche Micah David-Cole Fletcher.

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“Knowing that innocent people who were complete strangers stood up to defend these terrified two teenage girls. They had nothing to gain out of it but they stood up to help them and to do what was right,” he said. “That level of honor and valor and courage, we don’t see.”

Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche died from their injuries Friday and Fletcher remains in the hospital but is expected to survive.

Zafar said their mosque will be increasing security measures at its weekly open house Saturday night.

The Muslim Educational Trust is also hosting a vigil and interfaith dinner/breaking of the fast at the Muslim Educational Trust Community Center in Tigard at 8:30 p.m. They will honor the victims and good Samaritans who stood up for the Muslim women on the MAX.

“Today marks the first day of Ramadhan, the holy Muslim month of fasting, self reflection, and spreading of the peace and communal unity. The Vigil will be followed by a breaking of the fast interfaith dinner by the Ramadhan Tent Project, hosted here at the Muslim Educational Trust,” a press release from the MET said.

The suspect

Jeremy Christian is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation, and one count each of attempted aggravated murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Christian has a long history of criminal activity. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, May 31.