RELIGION

Muslim veterans vow to protect Jewish cemeteries amid anti-Semitic threats

Flowers rest on a damaged headstone at Mount Carmel Cemetery Feb. 28, 2017 in Philadelphia. Scores of volunteers are expected to help in an organized effort to clean up and restore the Jewish cemetery where vandals damaged hundreds of headstones. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

Flowers rest on a damaged headstone at Mount Carmel Cemetery Feb. 28, 2017 in Philadelphia. Scores of volunteers are expected to help in an organized effort to clean up and restore the Jewish cemetery where vandals damaged hundreds of headstones. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)  (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Following the desecration of hundreds of graves at Jewish cemeteries and wave after wave of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools around the nation, Muslim veterans are offering their support and vow to protect these places of worship.

“I’m a #MuslimMarine in Chicagoland area. If you synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it,” one such veteran tweeted on Monday.

Tayyid Rashid, a 40-year-old former member of the Marine Corps, behind the tweet told .mic: "As I watch this horrible thing unfold here, I felt terrible about what happened in St. Louis and this heinous event in Philadelphia. I was moved to tears. This is absolutely not right."

The tweet has gone viral and has prompted other American Muslims to offer their support to the Jewish community.

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This show of solidarity follows an online campaign called “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery,” which has raised more than $115,000 to repair the gravestones toppled over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City, Missouri.

Earlier this week, dozens of volunteers from various faiths helped clean up the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, which was vandalized over the weekend.

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President Donald Trump, who has been criticized as lax in denouncing the threats and other anti-Semitic acts across the country, opened his address Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress with his strongest condemnation yet.

"Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries," Trump said, "remind us that, while we are a country that disagrees on policy, we stand united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms."

According to the JCC Association of North America, centers and day schools in at least a dozen states received threats, as of Monday. No bombs were found.

It was the fifth round of bomb threats against Jewish institutions since January, prompting outrage and exasperation among Jewish leaders as well as calls for an aggressive federal response to put a stop to it.

"The Justice Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the White House, alongside Congress and local officials, must speak out — and speak out forcefully — against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country," said David Posner, an official with JCC Association of North America. "Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities."

The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are probing the threats.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the vandalism and bomb threats serious, unacceptable behavior and said the department will "do what it can to assist in pushing back ... and prosecuting anybody that we can prove to be a part of it."

"We are a nation that is a diverse constituency, and we don't need these kind of activities," Sessions said.

Rashid said he had one message to the people behind the valdalizations and threats.

"If you truly want to establish peace in the world, you have to learn to look at the world through the realities of the oppressed," he told .mic. "If we want to establish peace and live in a country of values and principles of the constitution, we have to engage in dialogue and efforts to hear out one another."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.