What began as a local effort by Muslim Americans to honor ambassador Chris Stevens who died during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya earlier this month has become a global online movement.
Thousands of Muslims and others around the world have come together under the banner of Celebrate Mercy's MercyMail campaign to offer their condolences and support to Stevens' family.
"It's just gone viral," Tarek el Messidi, the young Muslim businessman and Celebrate Mercy founder who came up with the idea for the condolence campaign, told ABC 9 News.
el Messidi told WATE.com that the goal of the campaign had initially been to encourage 1,000 people to send online condolences to Stevens' family. Within two days, however, that number was increased to 5,000.
And now, Celebrate Mercy says, even that goal has been smashed.
According to a press release published on Wednesday by the non-profit Muslim group, over 7,000 letters have been sent from 110 countries in eleven days and more continue to be sent out "at a rate of one letter every two minutes."
The organization says it has received letters from Muslims "spanning five continents," including many Libyans and Libyan-Americans.
On its website, Celebrate Mercy explains that the idea for the campaign had stemmed from a desire to "respond to an evil deed with a good one:"
Chris Stevens, the United States Ambassador to Libya, was wrongfully killed on September 11, 2012. His killers were extremists who were angered by an obscure film that aims to insult the Prophet Muhammad's character. By killing an innocent man who had nothing to do with this film, they did more to offend the Prophet Muhammad than this film could have ever done. Their actions go against the mercy, love, patience, and justice he embodied on a daily basis.
el Messidi, who lives in Cincinnati, concurred.
"We want to show that we really care for the family of this man and the other Americans and Libyans who were killed there and people who were dying because of some really lame video that came out on YouTube," he told ABC 9 News. "We need to show that the vast majority of Muslims, 99.9 percent of the 1 billion Muslims are not in the streets and not vandalizing. They're not killing anyone. They are not burning things."