The following is a press statement from the Islamic Center of Virginia in response to recent anti-Semitic actions taken in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. The press release reads in full:
The Muslim Community of Greater Richmond is appalled by the recent series of anti-Semitic crimes occurring recently throughout our country, including the desecration of Jewish graves at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
As we have done in the past, we will continue to stand with our Jewish sisters and brothers in the face of such blatant bigotry.
Shortly after these acts of vandalism, a nationwide fundraising campaign was launched entitled “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery,” raising over $40,000 since it began.
Attacks of this nature are not simply demoralizing for religious minorities but detrimental to our American values. We recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity.
With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.
Today, Richmond is truly an interfaith city committed to the security and well-being of all people of faith, and the Muslim community is honored to be a part of such a welcoming city and region. #StandingTogether #OneCommunity #OneNation
Richmond has enjoyed an Islamic presence since the 1880s, as Lebanese and Syrian refugees fled Ottoman persecution.
As one might be able to tell, the Islamic community in Virginia is one that has the same tugs and pulls of any faith between more liberalizing and tolerant been-heres in contrast to the zeal of converts and newcomers.
Given that Islam has as perhaps as many varying schools as Christianity (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Mormon) it should come as little surprised that Islam has its internal conversations between reformers and conservatives, as the Richmond-area Islamic community most certainly does.
Yet like any community under threat, one finds a pleasing tendency towards the defense of the defenseless. One has to be positively cheered about the $40,000 raised to restore the honor and memory of the victims of vandalism in St. Louis — and all from what the media et al. would claim to be an unlikely source.
UPDATE: Grand total is $60,000 now…
“Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery,” read the crowdfunding campaign’s website, which was spearheaded by Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi. “We also extend our deepest condolences to all those who have been affected and to the Jewish community at large.”
If you are so inclined? Feel free to donate here.