Muslims raise money to rebuild desecrated Jewish cemetery, exceed goal three times over
After some 200 headstones were vandalized at a historical Jewish cemetery in St. Louis over the weekend, two Muslim-American activists started a crowdfunding effort to repair and rebuild the damaged grave sites at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi surpassed their $20,000 goal in hours, and currently have raised $71,045 and counting.
The effort is set to continue for another 26 days with all proceeds going directly to Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, which dates back to the 1800s. Any additional funds will go to other Jewish centers that have been vandalized nationwide.
On the crowdfunding site, the activists wrote “Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. We also extend our deepest condolences to all those who have been affected and to the Jewish community at large.”
Addressing the rise of anti-Semitism across the United States since the election of President Trump, the activists said their response was inspired by the basic sense of humanity instilled by their faith:
While these senseless acts have filled us with sorrow, we reflect on the message of unity, tolerance, and mutual protection found in the Constitution of Medina: an historic social contract between the Medinan Jews and the first Muslim community. We are also inspired by the example of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who stood up to pay respects for a passing Jewish funeral procession. When questioned on why he stood for a Jewish funeral, he responded, “Is it not a human soul?”
It should not go without notice that in 24 hours, these Muslim-Americans have done more in response to the recent epidemic of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States than the president has done since being elected. After weeks of answering questions about bomb threats at Jewish community centers by insisting he loves the Jews more than anybody, Trump finally gave a milquetoast statement Tuesday proclaiming anti-Jewish hate crimes “have to stop.” It didn’t go over well.
Meanwhile, Sarsour and El-Messidi, two people whose religion the president has said should bar them from traveling freely in and out of the country, are actually stepping up and supporting their fellow Americans, when the only recognition they can potentially expect to receive from their government is getting placed in a registry.