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Muslim American man to help Jewish cemetery where hundreds of headstones were vandalised

'Whatever the extremists and haters are trying to destroy, we will go in and try to build'

A Muslim American activist has vowed to help a Jewish cemetery where hundreds of headstones were vandalised.

Approximately 500 tombstones were targeted in an attack at the Mt Carmel Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia Police at Mount Carmel Cemetery. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP)
Philadelphia Police at Mount Carmel Cemetery. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP)

Tarek-El-Messidi, who is from the state, had previously worked with Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American to raise money to pay for repairs at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis when 150 headstones were toppled or damaged.

The 36-year-old is the head of Celebrate Mercy, an interfaith-orientated Muslim NGO. His last fundraising attempt pulled in more than $130,000.

“I’m on my way to the cemetery, to assess the damage and to speak to the manager about the kind of help we can do with the funds we have raised for the St. Louis cemetery,” he told Haaretz.

“We never expected to hit the goal in three hours, it was definitely giving both communities a lot of hope,” he added.

Mr El-Messidi said this was a good start, and believes the solidarity will continue.

“I think we need a dialogue, we need to ask each other how we can help each other, how we can be of service. A lot can be done, but this is a good start.

“It’s unfortunate that it took a tragedy to bring us closer together, but we will continue from here. Whatever the extremists and haters are trying to destroy, we will go in and try to build.”

In an unprecedented move, Israel responded to the incident in Philadelphia, saying "the Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry".

"We have full confidence in US authorities to catch and punish culprits," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said in a statement reported by Haaretz.

"Vandals target… cars, bridges with Nazi and racist graffiti in Buffalo. Evil and hatred must be stopped. Now."

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