Jewish worshippers in Victoria, Texas, handed their synagogue keys to Muslims worshipers after the only mosque in the city was burned down by fire.
According to Business Insider, the Victoria Islamic Centre burnt down in a fire on Saturday. The actual cause is still being investigated by federal officials. But a few months ago, the place of worship was also burgled. The inferno would have left the Muslim population without a place of worship if their Jewish neighbors had not offered a helping hand.
Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, said that despite the different faiths in Victoria, when something calamitous happened, it was always good to stand together in unity, especially when they were all familiar with each other. Loeb added that there was plenty of room to share because the number of Muslims surpassed the number of Jews in the small city.
“Everybody knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together. We have probably 25 to 30 Jewish people in Victoria, and they probably have 100 Muslims. We got a lot of building for a small amount of Jews.”
A source speaking to the Independent revealed that the fire at the mosque was discovered around 2 a.m. Saturday by a convenience store clerk who called the fire department. The raging fire gave the fire department a torrid time, and it took them four hours before they could bring it under control. Sadly, by that time, the building had been completely gutted. Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities recorded.
Shahid Hashimi, one of the founders of the mosque, confirmed that the place of worship was built in 2000. The surgeon said he was shocked when Jewish community members came to his home and handed him a key to the Temple Bnai Israel Synagogue.
Surprisingly, there was more to come.
On Sunday, the Victoria community held an interfaith event in front of the burnt mosque and through local donations and a GoFundMe page reeled in over $900,000 in 24 hours to help toward rebuilding the mosque. Omar Rachid, who created the crowdfunding campaign, said the outpouring of love and support from other faiths left him breathless. He added that was the hallmark of the true American.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received. The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit.”
This is not the first time that religious leaders in the town of about 65,000 residents would pool together their congregation despite their differences. A few years back, the religious leaders put together a three-week event where the synagogue, church, and mosque played host to each other’s members.
The burning down of the Victoria Islamic Centre took place hours after President Trump passed an executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering America for 90 days. The president also suspended the country’s refugee program for 120 days.
Trump’s action drew widespread outrage and condemnation with politicians already calling for his impeachment and believing that he exceeded his constitutional authority with his blanket ban. Many of those calling for the 45th president of the United States to be removed from office are Democrats, making it highly unlikely that the impeachment process would see the light of day.
The reason being that the Republican Party controls both the House of Representatives and Senate. If the president is to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote against him. Moreover, a sitting president, according to the U.S. Constitution, can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors.” Congressional elections are scheduled for 2018, and Democrats hope to regain the majority in both houses of Congress.
President Trump has insisted his executive order is not a Muslim ban despite admitting on a network that the entry of Christian Syrians would take precedence.
“They’ve been horribly treated…everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians…and I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”
[Featured Image by Michael Sohn/AP Images]