Muslims offer to guard Jewish sites in US

Image source, Tayyib Rashib
Image caption,
Tayyib Rashib (left) with his drill instructor Sgt Hall

Following the recent spate of bomb threats against Jewish community centres and the desecration of graves at cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, some Muslims have turned to social media to offer to guard Jewish sites.

The offers to protect religious sites have come from Muslims who include military servicemen, lawyers and Emmy Award-winning TV broadcasters.

The JCC Association of North America, a network of cultural centres, reported more than 100 bomb threats against Jewish centres in the first two months of 2017.

On Monday alone, the organisation said another 31 threats were made against Jewish centres including a gunshot fired through a Hebrew school window at an Indiana synagogue.

Viral solidarity

In a tweet, a former Muslim marine, Tayyib Rashid, pledged: "If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it."

Image source, @MuslimMarine

Mr Rashid, known by his Twitter handle @MuslimMarine adds in his Periscope video that "I've seen a tremendous outpouring of love and support from all Americans, from Muslims, from my fellow Jewish Americans, from Christians, from atheists, from everyone".

The former Marine welcomes people to meet him in a local coffee shop in his home town in Grayslake, Chicago, in his "initiative to help promote peace between Muslims and non-Muslims".

He aims to open dialogue about "the recent atrocities committed by some hateful people" that were responsible for the "destruction and desecration of the graves of people of Jewish faith".

He adds: "I condemn that wholeheartedly and I stand in solidarity with all my Jewish citizens."

His now-viral tweet that has been "liked" by 12,000 supporters prompted an overwhelming number of responses from Jewish Twitter users with one inviting him over for Seder,, a ceremonial dinner held on the first two nights of Passover.

Image source, @olam_olam_olam

Other Muslims, including Emmy Award-winning TV Broadcaster Momin Bhatti took to social media to pledge their support in his call to protect Jewish sites.

Image source, @KhalidWhalid1
Image source, @BhattiMomin
Image source, @MulimIQ

This latest show of solidarity comes shortly after an online Muslim-led crowdfunding campaign to help repair a vandalised Jewish cemetery raised more than $150,000 (£122,000).

On 20 February, more than 170 headstones were damaged at the Jewish cemetery just outside St. Louis, Missouri. In the same week, 100 headstones were overturned and broken at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St Louis, Missouri, was vandalised on Monday, 20 February

Unity between Muslim and Jewish organisations was also displayed after an online campaign to raise funds for an arson damaged mosque in Florida raised more than $70,000 (£57,000).

Adeel Karim, a member of the Islamic Society of New Tampa, posted on his Facebook profile that he was "floored" after realising that many of the donors to the campaign were Jewish.

"I couldn't understand why people were donating in what seemed like weird amounts to the cause. There are sums of 18, 36, 72 dollars etc. then I figured out after clicking on the names Avi, Cohen, Goldstein, Rubin, Fisher….

"Jews donate in multiples of 18 as a form of what is called 'Chai'. It wishes the recipient long life. "

President Trump opened his first speech to a joint session of Congress on 21 February by condemning the recent bomb threats and desecration of cemeteries.

"Recent threats targeting Jewish community centres and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms."

Written by Wais Bashir, UGC & Social News team

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