US Muslims raise over $100,000 for synagogue victims
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US Muslims raise over $100,000 for synagogue victims

Organizers of crowdfunding campaign say helping their Jewish neighbors ‘sends a powerful message of compassion through action’

The homepage of the crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change on October 29, 2018. (screen capture: launchgood.com)
The homepage of the crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change on October 29, 2018. (screen capture: launchgood.com)

A crowdfunding campaign by two Muslim American groups has raised almost $100,000 for the surviving victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the relatives of the 11 killed.

The campaign on LaunchGood reached its initial goal of $25,000 within six hours and its second goal of $50,000 before the 24-hour mark, and is now targeting $125,000.

It was organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change, Muslim-American nonprofits.

“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” the groups said in a statement.

Fundraising proceeds will go toward meeting the short-term needs of the injured victims and grieving families, including funeral expenses and medical bills.

Wasi Mohamed, the executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, is hugged by a rabbi after a service to honor and mourn the victims of mass shooting at the Tree Of Life Synagogue on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

“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 and violence in America,” the groups said. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

At an interfaith vigil Sunday night, the head of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh pledged to support the Jewish community, and said Muslims were prepared to stand guard outside synagogues if needed.

Wasi Mohamed announced that Muslims had already raised more than $70,000 to help their Jewish neighbors, news greeted by a spontaneous standing ovation.

“We just want to know what you need. If it’s more money, let us know,” Mohamed said. “If it’s people outside your next service protecting you, let us know we’ll be there.”

A mostly elderly group of 11 people were gunned down in the bloody assault on the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday morning by a shooter who said he “wanted all Jews to die,” while six more were wounded in the attack.

Federal officials said Sunday that 46-year-old suspect Robert Bowers — arrested at the synagogue after a firefight with police — faces 29 federal charges, many carrying the death penalty. He has been hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds but will appear before a federal judge on Monday.

The shooting, which has sparked an outpouring of grief and shock from American Jews, came just days after a pipe bomb was sent to prominent Jewish philanthropist George Soros, who has been the target of what many see as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

People hug as they arrive for a vigil, for the shoting at the Tree of Life synagogue the day before, at the Allegheny County Soldiers Memorial on October 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Such conspiracy theories, which accuse Jews of dominating government and finance, are rife among the so-called “alt-right” movement, which is supportive of Trump and has gained significant influence in recent years, including through the president’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

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