A group of Muslim organizations in the U.S. have launched an online campaign to raise funds to help rebuild the eight black churches that burned down in Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia after the June 17 deadly shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church.
"To many it is clear that these are attacks on Black culture, Black religion, and Black lives," says the campaign's website, organized by MuslimARC, the Arab-American Association of New York, and Ummah Wide, a digital media startup focused on Muslim issues. "We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property." Three of the fires have been ruled as arson by investigators, one was ruled as caused by lightning, and the others still are under investigation.
Since launching July 2, the Respond with Love campaign's more than 500 supporters have already surpassed its $20,000 funding goal, reaching roughly $23,000 as of this posting. The initiative will continue through July 18, with money going to churches based on need in consultation with pastors and church leaders, according to the campaign.
California-based imam and Muslim scholar Zaid Shakir wrote the following to explain the motivation for the campaign:
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. As a small symbol of that solidarity, during this blessed month of Ramadan, we are gathering donations to help rebuild the seven churches that have been burned down since the racist murders in Charleston, South Carolina.