Muslims Raise Nearly $100,000 for Burned Black Churches

This Wednesday, June 24, 2015 photo shows the charred remains of the back left wing of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Investigators with the Charlotte Fire Department say a fire at the predominantly black church is a case of arson. The church's congregation is predominantly black, and there are about 100 members. Investigators are not sure if the fire was racially motivated. (Davie Hinshaw/The Charlotte Observer via AP)
This Wednesday, June 24, 2015 photo shows the charred remains of the back left wing of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Investigators with the Charlotte Fire Department say a fire at the predominantly black church is a case of arson. The church’s congregation is predominantly black, and there are about 100 members. Investigators are not sure if the fire was racially motivated. (Davie Hinshaw/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

A coalition of U.S. Muslim groups behind a fundraiser to rebuild black churches targeted with arson in the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina shooting say they are nearing their goal of raising $100,000.

The fundraiser launched on July 2 has raised nearly $90,000 and ends on Eid — the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month of fasting — at 3:45 a.m. Friday morning, organizers said.

Their initial goal was to raise $10,000 for the churches. But after the fundraiser went viral, the group increased that target to $100,000.

Although some questioned what Muslims were doing raising money for Christian churches, one of the organizers, Namira Islam, executive director of MuslimARC — a Muslim anti-racism group — said the impetus to help came largely because of the racist nature of the attacks. UmmahWide, a Muslim digital media startup, and the Arab American Association of New York, a group aimed at empowering Arab Americans, also helped organize the fundraiser.

The church burnings across the South occurred in the weeks following the killing of nine African Americans in a Charleston church by a self-professed white supremacist.

Fires at four black churches across the South were determined to be arson attacks, Islam said. At least four other black churches caught fire, but they were apparently the result of natural causes, including lightning.

“We’re in a state of shock,” Brandon Reeves, a member of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia, said on July 9. The church, founded by his great-grandmother, Lillie Powell, was destroyed by fire on June 23. “With all these other churches in flames, I can’t help but think it might have been a hate crime.”

“Helping a church burned down out of hate is something we need to take action on,” Islam said. “Raising money was one tangible way of doing that.”

Muslims have faced similar discrimination in the U.S. as blacks, although African Americans have undoubtedly experienced more racism and racist violence than American Muslims, the Muslim coalition said on the LaunchGood fundraiser page.

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SOURCE: Renee Lewis 
Al Jazeera

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