NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cooperating with interfaith groups, leaders of the Muslim community in Chattanooga, Nashville, have launched a fundraising campaign for the victims of the latest attacks, sending an out loud message against these attacks as contradicting with Islam.
“The Chattanooga families lost fathers, brothers, and sons in a deplorable act of violence on July 16th. We wish to send a powerful message of unity and compassion through action,” Faith and Culture Center | Our Muslim Neighbor initiative said in a post on the charity website Launchgood.com.
The group, in coordination with the Muslim community in Chattanooga, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and interfaith partners is leading effort to raise $20,000 for the families of the victims of July 16th attack.
The money will be used to cover college scholarships and educational expenses for the spouses and children.
The funds will be verified and dispersed through the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga 7-16 Freedom Fund.
“Faith and Culture Center | Our Muslim Neighbor will cover all administrative and processing fees associated in this effort, so your gift will have the maximum impact. We strongly urge you to take part in this action; give and help our community heal,” the group said.
Last July 16, a 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines.
The gunman, who also died Thursday, was identified as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, who became a naturalized United States citizen and went to high school and college in Chattanooga.
As the Muslim community rejected the attack, the family of Abdulazeez offered sympathy, condolences and prayers.
“There are no words to describe our shock, horror, and grief,” said a family statement, provided to the Associated Press by a lawyer representing the family of Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who was killed by police.
“The person who committed this horrible crime was not the son we knew and loved. For many years, our son suffered from depression. It grieves us beyond belief to know that his pain found its expression in this heinous act of violence.”
The web page announcing this also has several appeals from community and religious leaders.
“Our communities need to come together and support the victims’ families,” Sheikh Ossama Bahloul, Imam at Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said.
“By coming together, no matter where you live or what religion you practice, you can be a part of something making our community a better place. Please give and support this important effort.”
Dr Naeem Baig, President Islamic Circle of North America and Moderator of Religions for Peace USA, echoed a similar message.
“It is at moments like these when all of us must come together to demonstrate unity over division. Let us stand in solidarity with the families of the victims in Chattanooga, and together create a culture that best embodies our deepest Islamic values of compassion and love for the neighbor. I urge all to support this cause,” he added.
The Muslim initiative won support of Christian and Jewish faith leaders as well.
“Our traditions and sacred texts instruct us not to stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds. We mourn the tragic loss of innocent human life in Chattanooga, the deranged shooting of five United States serviceman, those soldiers who sought to honor and defend our nation and its highest values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Rabbi Mark Schiftan, The Temple Nashville, said.
“Our hearts collectively compel us to support their families in their greatest time of need in tangible ways that will do something to ease their burdens, as they must first mourn their loved ones and then rebuild their lives as best as they can.”
Rev. Dr. Tony Richie, Bishop in the Church of God, Senior Pastor at New Harvest Church, added, “When communities of all faiths come together, it demonstrates that God is working in the face of evil.
“In these tough times, we can come together and turn the tables on the evil in our midst. Thus we overcome evil with good. In faith, common hope and love, we can minister to the Chattanooga families who are suffering.”