In a strong showing of cross-faith solidarity, a group of Muslim organizations joined to raise funds supporting the rebuilding of predominantly black churches in the South that were hit by devastating fire damage after the Charleston massacre. Only a week old, the campaign has surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $50,000 and been profiled in publications ranging from Mashable and Buzzfeed to RT and Al Jazeera America.
The campaign, started during Ramadan, was founded by a network of organizations and activists that include Ummah Wide, Muslim ARC and the Arab American Association of New York. The campaign, according to its fundraising page, was launched out of an obligation to both help communities of faith rebuild and to uplift racial and religious justice. mentioning the #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches Twitter campaign as well:
As Muslims we know the importance of protecting the vulnerable and respecting people who call on God in their various tongues. We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property. We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present. Too often cowards inflict us with a crippling fear, but with encouragement and support from likely and unlikely places fear cannot stop us.
The campaign is encouraging people to use #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches on Twitter. The hashtag has been used widely all over social media by those demanding an explanation and full investigation of the fires. The page further includes a statement from noted theologian Imam Zaid Shakir, who implored American Muslims to support the churches out of a sense of shared suffering:
“The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. Unless, of course, we are talking about those of us who members of the African American Muslim community. As a whole, however, we understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country. We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour.”
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