When Virginia congressional candidate Qasim Rashid received anti-Muslim tweets from conservative voter Oscar Dillon, he responded by donating to a crowdfunding account set up to help pay for Dillon's medical bills, NBC News reports. The latter was so touched by Rashid's act of charity that he has since re-thought his views on Muslims, and the two have become friends.
Rashid, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, wrote in a tweet that last week that he had received "deeply hurtful anti-Muslim tweets" from another account. One message, for example, claimed that Islam promotes violence, specifically, rape and beheadings. Another stated that no Muslim should hold a political office in America.
"We do not need you... in any seat of office above street sweeper," the tweet said.
Rather than ignore the tweets, or even take the step of blocking the user, Rashid decided to find out more about the constituent. He discovered that the man behind the offensive tweets, later identified as 66-year-old Oscar Dillon, was drowning in medical debt and had started a GoFundMe account to cover his family's extensive medical bills.
Dillon revealed that the costs of treatment for his wife's pulmonary embolism, as well as his own rising medical expenses, had left his retirement savings depleted, and that he wasn't making enough money to cover daily living expenses. He added that his house needed to be upgraded to make it handicap-accessible for his wife, but there was no money to build the improvements.
Rashid donated a small amount -- $55 -- to the Dillons' cause.
"My faith instead teaches me to serve all humanity," Rashid wrote, encouraging his own Twitter followers to donate to Dillon's crowdfunding effort as well.
When he noticed Rashid's donation, Dillon wrote a "thoughtful" and "compassionate" apology to the politician. He even asked Rashid if the two could meet, which they did.Dillon explained that his distrust of Muslims before meeting Rashid was informed by the events of September 11, 2001. He said that several of his loved ones were in "direct danger" that day, and that it inspired in him a hatred of "radical Islam."
Since meeting Rashid, however, he's had something of a change of heart.
"This has reopened my eyes to pre-9/11, where I would look at each individual as a person," Dillon said. "He has showed me that there is good in all walks of life."
As for Dillon's GoFundMe account, it seems that Rashid's contribution and the call of action to his followers has made an impact. As of this writing, Dillon's GoFundMe campaign has raised just under $20,000, out of a goal of $26,237.
Several donors have written in the comments that their own donation was "inspired by Qashim Rashid."