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US Muslim groups raise over $200k for synagogue victims

Muslim groups raised more than $200,000 Wednesday to aid Jewish victims and their families after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the state of Pennsylvania.

The fundraising campaign organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change received national attention for the amount of money raised in a short period of time.

The money raised was in response to a gunman opening fire during a ceremony at the synagogue Saturday, leaving 11 dead and six others injured, including four police officers.

The suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, used social media to post anti-Semitic rhetoric, saying "Jews are the children of Satan".

CelebrateMercy Founding Director Tarek El-Messidi said in a statement his group wanted to adhere to the tenets of Islam with the campaign. "We wish to respond to evil with good, as our Islamic faith teaches us, and send a powerful message of compassion to the Jewish community - our Abrahamic cousins."

The money helps pay for funerals and medical costs for the victims, and their families, and any other immediate or short-term needs. Funds will be delivered to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to work directly with the Tree of Life Synagogue.

The initial fundraising goal was set at $25,000 on Oct. 27, but was quickly surpassed within six hours. Four days later, the groups raised at least $214,000 with six days left in the fundraising campaign.

"We just want to know what you need. If it's more money, let us know. If it's people outside your next service protecting you, let us know. We'll be there," said Imam Wasi Mohamed of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, as he recalled the Jewish community's response to Muslims after 9/11 and U.S. President Donald Trump's election.

"That was the same offer made to me by this community," Mohamed said. "We're just repaying the favor."

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