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Beaverton Mosque Welcomes Train Stabbing Victims' Families

Muslim men and women gathered in the prayer room at Beaverton’s Islamic Center of Portland, or Imam Mahdi Center, before prayers to welcome Friday evening’s special guests: the family of one of the victims from last month’s deadly MAX train stabbings.

Taliesin Namkai-Meche’s mother and sisters answered questions and remembered the 23-year-old who was killed after a man spewed hate speech toward a Muslim teen and her friend.

“I feel like my son died for a reason,” said Asha Deliverance, Namkai-Meche’s mother, who drove from her home in Ashland in southern Oregon to be at the event. “There’s a lot of suffering that’s happened and we need to make a bridge.”

She was joined by three of Namkai-Meche’s sisters. The women shared stories of Namkai-Meche and spoke of previous marks of his compassion and willingness to speak his mind.

John Whitman, the boyfriend of Namkai-Meche’s sister, Kriya Krisnabi, remembered a trip to Alaska with the family where Namkai-Meche stumbled upon a dying seal in a fjord. The rest of the family expressed sadness but continued on their way. Namkai-Meche stayed behind and sat beside the seal for the remaining hours of its life.

His mother recalled a young Taliesin who enjoyed playing with plastic toy swords while Shakespearean actors rehearsed nearby in his hometown of Ashland. She recalled him fearlessly approaching the grown men, more than twice his height, and challenging them to a duel, saying he was there to “slay all the evil in the world.”

An especially tearful moment came when Taliesin’s older sister Kriya shared a list she had made of all the things they had planned to do together.

“We were going to have family dinners on Tuesdays, you were going to be at my wedding, hold the kids I would eventually have,” Krisnabi read through tears. “It didn’t matter what we did together — just that we were going to do it together.”

The family later opened the floor for comments and questions and heard from several members of the audience.

Hanan Al-Zubaidy, 24, shared that as a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, harassment on public transit is common. What’s rare, she said, is for somebody to stand up.

“He planted a seed and even in his passing he has made an impact so powerful that young Muslim women can feel safe enough to go on the MAX and believe that somebody might be there to stand up for them,” Al-Zubaidy said.

“Not only did he do something, he started a movement,” she said.

That feeling was shared by Portland State University student Tahmina Karimyar. She came to the mosque with her sister, Madina, to show support for the victim’s family.

“They started a chain reaction, this family is a good example for our community,” Karimyar said. “To speak up for what’s right — that will combat ignorance and help us heal.”

Tahseen Abidi, a volunteer with the mosque, said the news had spread to her home in Pakistan. She helped organize the event to provide a space for the Muslim community to express their gratitude and spark conversation.

“I just wanted to let them know how much they mean to us,” Abidi said. The mosque also invited the families of Rick Best and Micah Fletcher, a college student who survived the knife attack.

“We want to build relationships with them and help out as much as we can,” she said.

<p>Taliesin Namkai-Meche&rsquo;s mother, Asha Deliverance, spoke about Taliesin and answered questions at a recent community event at a Beaverton mosque.</p>

Molly Solomon


Taliesin Namkai-Meche’s mother, Asha Deliverance, spoke about Taliesin and answered questions at a recent community event at a Beaverton mosque.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Molly Solomon