When Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook fatally shot 14 people and injured 17 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino earlier this month, maddeningly irresponsible bigots who just so happen to hold positions of authority decided to flip the tragedy into some offensively divisive rhetoric. Donald Trump, as you’ve surely heard by now, seriously suggested imposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Though the suggestion is seemingly ludicrous enough to go entirely unsupported, that has sadly not been the case (Hi, Ted Cruz). In an effort to combat unfounded hate with a gesture of love, a group of Muslim leaders have united to help raise money for the families of those San Bernardino victims.
"We're planning within a week to give the first batch of donations to the families so it can help with more short-term immediate expenses," Tarek El-Messidi, co-founder of the Islamic nonprofit group CelebrateMercy, tells the Huffington Post. "The idea is to help alleviate the burden on the families, potentially funeral expenses and whatnot. We know no amount of money will bring back their loved ones, but hopefully this will make things a little easier for them."
El-Messidi teamed up with Faisal Qazi, MiNDS co-founder and neurologist, to start the massive donation fund via LaunchGood shortly after the tragedy. At the time of publication, their efforts had successfully raised more than $120,000 with the assistance of a large group of partnering organizations:
"I think it sends a clear message that American Muslims are here to build and not destroy," El-Messidi tells HuffPo. "We do not want to be associated at all with extremists who are putting people in harm's way, and we want to show this as just one example of how American Muslims are contributors to society, trying to make our society a better place." Track the campaign's progress ahead of its Dec. 30 deadline here, though the founders' goal of $140,000 thankfully seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.