A fundraiser started by a pair of Muslim-American activists got a boost from famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, raising tens of thousands of dollars to aid a Jewish cemetery that was vandalized over the weekend.
Approximately 180 tombstones were knocked over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the University City suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, according to police, who told AFP on Wednesday that they were still investigating the case and had no suspects.
While authorities said they had no indication the act was a hate crime, it came amid a spate of anti-Semitic threats against Jewish groups across America.
In response, Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi started an online campaign to raise funds for the cemetery’s recovery and to “send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities.”
Rowling tweeted a link to a news article about the campaign on Tuesday night, adding simply: “This is such a beautiful thing.”
Within hours, the fundraiser appeared to have more than tripled its haul to over $70,000. Their initial goal was $20,000.
Sarsour and El-Messidi planned to continue the fundraiser until March 20, and to send the proceeds to help the cemetery’s recovery. Leftover funds would be donated to other Jewish groups.
“There is no place for this type of hate, desecration and violence in America,” the activists wrote on their fundraiser webpage.
“We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”
The cemetery has received an outpouring of support, with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens announcing that he will lead a group of clean-up volunteers on Wednesday afternoon.
“Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination,” Greitens said in a written statement.
Since the start of the year, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America has recorded 69 bomb threat incidents at dozens of centers in 27 US states and one Canadian province.
On Monday alone, nearly a dozen Jewish community centers received bomb threats that prompted evacuations. All of the threats turned out to be hoaxes.
After remaining silent on the subject for several days, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for an end to “hatred in all of its very ugly forms.”
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful - and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump said.