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Muslim American-led Campaign Raises Thousands for Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Local and national media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, Feb. 21, 2017.

A fundraising campaign organized by Muslim-Americans has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help repair vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in the central U.S. state of Missouri.

Vandals damaged or tipped over as many as 200 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, just outside St. Louis.

Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi launched the online effort Tuesday with a goal of raising $20,000 to help the repair effort. Donations surpassed $20,000 in just a few hours, and by early Wednesday the total stood at more than $55,000.

"Never underestimate the generosity and solidarity people hold within them," Sarsour wrote on Twitter, saying the campaign will continue.

Any money beyond what is needed to repair the cemetery will go toward helping other vandalized Jewish centers, the organizers said.

"Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event," they wrote on the fundraising site.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday condemned a recent surge in anti-Semitic threats across the country, saying they are "going to stop."

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," he said.

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Trump: Anti-Semitic Threats 'Horrible, Painful'
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Trump's remarks were made while he paid a visit to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.

The president's condemnation of anti-Semitic attacks came one day after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported at least 10 Jewish community centers in multiple states had received bombing threats Monday, the fourth string of such threats since the beginning of the year.

The ADL said no explosives were found at the centers and described the reported threats as "not credible."

The group has called again on the Trump administration to develop a plan to address what some believe is a recent rise in anti-Semitism in the United States.

At a Washington news conference last Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States. Rather than condemn the acts, Trump instead talked about his electoral college victory and described the question as unfair, prompting more criticism that he had been silent about the apparent rise in anti-Semitism.

Trump's opponent in last November's election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, called Monday for the president to take a stronger stand against anti-Semitism.