By Carol Kuruvilla
Muslims are bringing hope to Christian communities in the South after a recent spate of fires devastated black church buildings.
Three Muslim organizations have teamed up to raise money to rebuild worship centers in Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina that were destroyed by fire the past few weeks.
The “Respond With Love” campaign, organized by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, the Arab-American Association of New York and Ummah Wide during the holy month of Ramadan, has already raised close to $25,000 with the help of more than 500 individual supporters.
“ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear,” the campaign organizers wrote on their fundraising page. “We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property.”
Church fires aren’t unusual. It’s estimated that arsonists regularly set fire to about five churches every week. The recent blazes at the eight churches noted by “Respond With Love” don’t seem to be related. Federal investigators also have not indicated that these fires were the result of hate crimes.
Still, the blazes occurred in the 10 days after a gunman killed nine parishioners at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina — and their proximity to that tragic event raised nationwide concerns for black churches and the black community.
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