Muslim activists raise over $57k to restore desecrated Jewish cemetery
The suburban St. Louis cemetery was vandalized late Sunday or early Monday and discovered Monday morning. But by the end of Tuesday, a fundraiser started by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi raised over $31,000 to repair it, surpassing its goal of $20,000.
The damages to the cemetery came following heightened concerns over hate crimes in the US. There have already been 12 reported bomb threats to Jewish community centers and late last month, a mosque in Texas was burned down.
“On the heels of bomb threats and hate crimes against dozens of Jewish community centers across the United States, a historical Jewish cemetery was vandalized this past weekend when over 170 headstones were damaged,” the statement from the LaunchGood campaign said.
It adds that Muslim Americans stand “in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration” against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.
“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.”
By Wednesday the campaign had gathered $57,000 and gained over 2,000 supporters.
“This is really a human issue,” El-Messidi told the Washington Post. “But out of this horrible election cycle, something beautiful has come out of it and [Muslims and Jews have] bonded together to support each other and stand up to this hate. Politics can get in the way of our basic humanity, I hope this breaks through all those walls, no pun intended, to help bring us closer together.”
Sarsour and El-Messidi are two increasingly influential activists for the Muslim community. Sarsour is credited with organizing the Women’s March, which had an international turnout of millions of people last month.
This isn’t the first time El-Messidi of Knoxville, Tennessee, has organized a successful crowdfunding campaign. In December 2015, he raised over $215,000 for the victims and families of victims in the San Bernardino shooting and also called on Muslims to write condolence letters to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack. Stevens’ sister was presented with 8,000 letters that Thanksgiving, the Washington Post reported.