No hate between Muslims and Jews

No hate between Muslims and JewsThe damaging of dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery spurred Muslim groups to raise thousands of dollars to help with repairs.

A crowdfunding campaign started by social justice activists Linda Sarsour, of New York, and Tarek El-Messidi, of Cincinnati, raised more than $20,000 within a few hours to help the Chesed Shel Emel Cemetery after up to 200 headstones were toppled during the weekend. As of late Tuesday, the campaign raised more than $40,000.

Locally, Imam Mufti Asif Umar of the Islamic Federation of Greater St. Louis condemned the incident “a horrific and disgusting act of vandalism which cannot be tolerated.”

The Missouri Council of American-Islamic Relations and the Imam Council of Metropolitan St. Louis, which represents 18 Islamic Centers in the city, also denounced the vandalism.

Members of the council of imams rebuked the deed in a statement Tuesday calling it a cowardly act and its leader saying he was appalled.

“We want the Jewish community to know that the Muslim community stands with you in solidarity as Anti-semitism, Islamophobia and hate in general is on the rise in our nation,” Imam Djilali Kacem said.

A statement released by the council echoed concerns over bigotry against religious groups in a “ever polarizing nation.”

Missouri Council of American-Islam Relations executive director Faizen Syed said the relatives of many of his friends were buried at the cemetery. He added that the action was not only a threat against the Jewish community, but “against all faiths and the values we hold dear as Americans.”

Council members said on Facebook late Tuesday they would join in cleanup efforts at the cemetery Wednesday followed by an interfaith vigil.

Council members said on Facebook late Tuesday they would join in cleanup efforts at the cemetery Wednesday followed by an interfaith vigil.

The Muslim advocacy group also offered a $5,000 reward for information related to the series of bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the country early this week. Some in the St. Louis region said the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emel Cemetery heightened anxieties in communities.

Other religious groups were also helping raise money for repairs at the cemetery and many political leaders denounced the desecration.

In University City, council members said they would not tolerate hateful and hurtful acts in the community. People can donate to the cemetery through the website or the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

Gov. Eric Greitens denounced the vandalism as a “despicable act” in a public post to Facebook late Monday, saying of vandals “from their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith.”

He is expected to visit the cemetery Wednesday to help with cleanup.

On his visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, United States President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitic acts and said “it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”

Trump said the threats to Jewish communities and centers were a “painful and sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

In the past the U.S. president has drawn criticism for not rejecting anti-Semitic groups who support him.