Muslims raise over $118,000 for vandalised Jewish cemetery in Missouri

Muslims raise over $118,000 for vandalised Jewish cemetery in Missouri
Spencer Pensoneau, Ron Klump and Philip Weiss (L-R), of Weiss and Rosenbloom Monument company, work to right toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.
PHOTO: Reuters

Muslim Americans have helped raise more than US$84,000 (S$118,800) to repair vandalised headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, according to an online fundraising page, amid attacks and threats against Jewish institutions.

About 170 headstones were toppled or damaged at the century-old Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery over the weekend, according to cemetery staff.

Some Jewish groups described the vandalism and threats as the latest evidence that anti-Semitic groups have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as US president. His campaign last year drew the support of white nationalists and right-wing groups, despite his disavowals of them.

"Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration," the fundraisers said on their website.

More than 3,000 people had donated US$84,261 as of Wednesday afternoon. Cemetery staff declined to comment.

Muslims raise over $84,000 for vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri

Jewish community centres across the United States have reported a surge in bomb threats, all of which have so far proved to be hoaxes.

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League, one of the country's most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, said its national headquarters in New York City received an anonymous bomb threat but was later given the all clear.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered state police to investigate and work with federal and local law enforcement. In a statement, Cuomo said the threats were "now a national crisis"because of their regularity.

Trump condemned the previous threats as anti-Semitism for the first time on Tuesday after repeatedly declining to do so when asked by journalists last week. Some Jewish organisations have criticised his approach, saying they fear that the groups that supported Trump had become more active.

The fundraising effort was launched by Linda Sarsour, a liberal political activist, and Tarek El-Messidi, the founding director of Celebrate Mercy, a non-profit organisation that teaches the public about Mohammad, the founder of Islam.

On Tuesday night, Sarsour posted on Twitter that she was raising the funds "in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers."

The organisers of the fundraising campaign said they would donate any excess funds to repair "any other vandalised Jewish centres."

Sarsour was a supporter of US Senator Bernie Sanders in his bid to become the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, and was one of the organizers of the Women's March on Washington, which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters on Jan. 21, the day after Trump's inauguration.

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