American Muslims Volunteer to Guard Jewish Centers Under Threat
Right now many readers in the United States may agree that it seems as though there is an increasingly visible and unrestrained pattern of hate crimes sweeping the nation. Not only have anti-Muslim hate groups been multiplying over the past year, but in the last couple months Jewish Americans have become targets of hate-motivated attacks.
A previous Care2 report detailed this trend, which included the mass desecration of a historically Jewish cemetery in Missouri and a series of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in a variety of states.
Sadly, since then these types of threats have only continued. Two other Jewish cemeteries, one in Philadelphia and the another in Rochester, have also been heavily vandalized, with hundreds of headstones being turned over.
In viewing these events, it may appear that the United States is becoming more divided and hateful toward each other by the day. And while, yes, hate groups seem to be newly emboldened, these incidents are resulting in consequences anti-Semites and xenophobes may not have anticipated.
Former Marine Tayyib Rashid, after learning of these threats and attacks against the Jewish community, took to Twitter to pledge his support his fellow Americans.
I’m a #MuslimMarine in Chicagoland area. If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it.
— The Muslim Marine (@MuslimMarine) February 27, 2017
After the tweet spread through social media, Rashid posted a Periscope video saying his heart had been warmed to see Americans from a variety faiths and backgrounds expressing their support for him and solidarity for his cause. “It lets me know that … the American people are good people, that we want and we desire peace; we want and we desire justice. And do respect one another,” Rashid says.
He goes on to ask that Muslims reach out to fellow Americans from other faiths and communities to address the “recent atrocities” targeting Jewish people and institutions. Rashid’s moving tweet and video statement stirred a number of other Muslims on social media to make similar pledges, including Emmy Award winner Momin Bhatti.
I’m a Muslim in #Harrisburg. If your synagogue or community center needs someone 2 stand guard, I will stand guard 4 you. Islam requires it.
— Momin (@BhattiMomin) February 28, 2017
Muslims have also rallied behind their fellow Jewish Americans in other ways. An online crowdfunding campaign begun by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi this week aimed at raising $20,000 to go toward repairs for the vandalized cemetery in Missouri. In just 24 hours, they were stunned to find that $80,000 had been pledged already.
Presently, more than $156,000 has been donated to the campaign. Sarsour and El-Messidi say these extra funds will go toward fixing other Jewish cemeteries, like those in Pennsylvania and New York, that have faced desecration.
It is a popular thought that Muslims and Jews have long been at odds; this, however, is not accurate. The two groups have a history of cultural cooperation going back centuries – this is often overlooked in light of the Palestine-Israel issue which is ultimately political, not religious, in nature.
At the end of the day, most Americans (and people in general) want to live and let live. These acts of hate and persecution are the doings of a small minority; hopefully, in this age of uncertainty and fear, Americans will look to the acts of individuals like Tayyib Rashid and those who have followed his call for solidarity as examples of what this nation is truly about.
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