A national coalition of Muslim groups has launched a fundraising campaign on behalf of the historically black southern churches set ablaze over the last few weeks, Buzzfeed reported Wednesday. The initiative, which has raised over $31,000 so far, will provide rebuilding funds for the structurally damaged churches.
As TPM previously reported, five black houses of worship have been burned in five southern states since the June 17 massacre of nine African-American parishioners at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. The FBI is investigating the incidents, and arson has been confirmed in three of the fires. Authorities have not yet determined if any of the fires constitute a hate crime.
On the “Respond With Love” campaign’s LaunchGood page, Muslim organizers point to the historic use of church fires as a means of intimidating southern blacks and write that “all houses of worship are sacred.” Muslim-American Imam Zaid Shakir affirms in a statement on the page that Muslim and black communities should come together to fight discrimination and racism in the U.S.
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. We do, however, 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.
The campaign has already surpassed its fundraising goal of $30,000, with over 750 people contributing thus far. It is supported by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, the Arab American Association of New York, and digital media startup Ummah Wide.