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Muslims Unite to Repair Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Muslims Unite to Repair Vandalized Jewish Cemetery
Local and national media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam

NEW YORK – Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi have started a crowdfunding campaign to support the repair of a St. Louis Jewish cemetery that was vandalized over the weekend, in a show of solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of the rising hate.

“Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery,” they wrote in the crowdfunding campaign on Launchgood.

“We also extend our deepest condolences to all those who have been affected and to the Jewish community at large.”

It follows a spate of anti-Semitic incidents that have rattled the American Jewish community in recent days.

Jewish community centers in 10 states were shaken by a wave of bomb threats on Monday.

That same day, reports emerged that more than 100 headstones at a historic Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis had been desecrated by vandals.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” they wrote.

Solidarity

Despite common notions of Muslim-Jewish antagonism, El-Messidi noted there’s a long tradition of mutual respect and support between the communities, dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

“Today, we have countless bomb threats, arson attacks, and vandalism directed at mosques and synagogues across American,” El-Messidi said.

“So it’s even more critical for us to work together to rebuild what haters try to destroy.”

The campaign, which aims to raise $20,000, has already drawn more than $21,000 in donations a few hours after launching it on Tuesday, February 21.

“Solidarity is a verb, and we are committed to put action behind our words through raising these funds,” Sarsour said.

Along with the crowdfunding campaign, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced a $5,000 reward Monday evening for tips that could lead to arrests and convictions in the bomb threats.

“It is the duty of American Muslims to offer support to the Jewish community and any minority group targeted in the recent spike in hate crimes nationwide,” CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

CAIR frequently decries attacks against marginalized groups, but doesn’t usually post rewards for those targeting non-Muslim communities.

“Due to the widespread nature of this series of threats, we believed it was our responsibility to take some concrete action,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s director of communications, told The Huffington Post.


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