Arab Americans and Muslims for Pittsburgh: Supporting Jews After Terrorist Attack
By: Ivey Noojin/Arab America Contributing Writer
In the wake of the Pittsburgh Synagogue tragedy, Arab Americans and Muslims across the country have come forth with statements and initiatives of solidarity for the Jewish lives lost.
The Terrorist Attack in Pittsburgh
Eleven people were killed on Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue when a gunman entered the building and opened fire. The victims were devout Jews who attended services at the synagogue regularly and were often the first to arrive.
Robert Bowers, 46, has been charged by authorities for the attack. He is currently facing trial on 29 counts. He had targeted Jews on social media before the event. The authorities have deemed this a hate crime, due to his anti-Semitic remarks as police arrested him.
This was the deadliest attack against Jews in the history of the United States.
Response: Muslims For Pittsburgh
CelebrateMercy and MPower Chance, non-profit Muslim American organizations started this campaign, citing the importance of compassion from quotes in the Qur’an by Prophet Muhammad. They also wanted to send a message of unity, showing that all faiths in the United States have a right to feel secure.
More than 3,600 people have contributed to the fund. Donors expand all across the United States and Canada.
On the third day, Oct. 29, the fund transferred the first installment of $25,000 to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to give to the families of the victims listed above. It sent a second installment of $25,000 Oct. 30 in the afternoon.
By 6 p.m. Oct. 29, the organizations leading the fund decided to keep the campaign open, even though they had surpassed their goal of $150,000. They wanted to allow donations to continue in order to support a new cause: fostering a better relationship between Muslims and Jews.
The last figures show that Muslims for Pittsburgh has raised over $212,00 (as of now) and growing.
Arab American and Muslims Support From Across the Country
There have been many Arab American and Muslim organizations throughout the country, local and national, who have also raised their voice swiftly for the cause. They have spoken amongst themselves, at events, sent emails or released statements on their websites either the day of or over the weekend regarding the attack. All of them have condemned violence and have expressed their solidarity for the victims of the shooting.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) issued a strong statement of the devastation of white supremacy in their press release on their website. They stated that “if unchecked, white nationalism will continue to spread deadly violence across America” and called for the Trump administration to condemn this philosophy.
A statement from the Arab American Institute (AAI) said, there is a “desperate need for moral leadership.” They believe that many public officials have ignored the blatant existence of racism and religious persecution in the United States, and they call on them, along with the presidency, to fix this abdication.
On the same day as the attack, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed their support for those affected by the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue. The president of Pittsburgh Chapter, Safdar Khwaja, said that “our doors are open at all times to our neighbors,” offering immediate and future help to the Jewish members of the local community.
The American Arab Civil Rights League (ACLR) publicly denounced extremism and terrorism on any group of people in the United States on Oct. 28, saying that “in such times, we need to stand together and not be divided by the politics of fear.” Misunderstanding of other religions should not be grounds for a mass shooting. The organization also stated in the email that there need to be more regulations on gun use.
For Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), “to kill innocent men and women in the midst of worship is an evil act of terror, birthed by hate.” In an email to their subscribers, they also mentioned that this shooting was the second attacked motivated by white supremacy that week, the first being the killing of two African Americans at a grocery store.
Regarding Current Leadership
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) compared the connection of these attacks to the rhetoric of President Trump, stating “we believe this is yet another outcome of the Nazi-like ideology, embraced, normalized, and given legitimacy by the president himself.” The email from AMP also mentioned that the Tree of Life synagogue was supporting refugees, which include Muslim immigrants, in their journey of resettlement in the United States. Therefore, to them, they were helping their Jewish companions, just like that group in Pittsburgh was doing for Muslims.
Focus on Humanity, Not Differences
These above organizations and tens more are supporting the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue tragedy for multiple reasons. They condemn the terrorist attack because they, too, have been victims of terrorism based on their race and religious beliefs. Many Arab Americans are Muslim and have experienced a similar hatred toward their religion. Also, many Arab Americans have grown accustomed to harassment and hateful remarks on social media and can identify with the threat.
Muslims and Arab Americans easily could have ignored the situation, and no one would have thought anything of it. Instead, the Arab American and Muslim community decided to come together in solidarity with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. People need to help other people, especially during their darkest days.
To contribute to the cause, please donate using this link. The fund will collect all of the money raised at 12:45 a.m. Nov. 7. Also, you can find more current information using the hashtag #MuslimsForPittsburgh.