NEW YORK Feb 22 Muslim Americans have helped
raise more than $66,000 to repair vandalized headstones at a
Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, according to an online
fundraising page, amid attacks and threats against Jewish
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 U.S. 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
2,400 people had donated since it began on Tuesday.
Jewish community centers across the United States have
reported a surge in bomb threats, all of which have so far
proved to be hoaxes.
Trump condemned the attacks as anti-Semitism for the first
time on Tuesday after repeatedly declining to do so when asked
by journalists last week. Some Jewish organizations have
criticized 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 organization that
teaches the public about Mohammad, the founder of Islam.
On Tuesday night, Sarsour posted on Twitter: "1500 donors &
more than $40k in less than 9 hours in solidarity with our
Jewish sisters and brothers. #RestInPeace"
Sarsour was a supporter of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in
his bid to become the Democratic Party's presidential candidate,
and went on to become one of the organizers of the Women's March
on Washington, which drew record crowds to the capital on Jan.
21, the day after Trump's inauguration.
Cemetery staff, who did not respond to a request for
comment, were still calculating the cost of repairing the
damaged tombstones as of Tuesday. The organizers of the
fundraising campaign said they would donate any excess funds to
repair "any other vandalized Jewish centers."
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Grant McCool)