Christians and Jews in a small Texas town reached out to help their Muslim neighbors after a fire destroyed a local mosque.
“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue,” Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a cofounder of the Victoria Islamic Center, told The New York Times.
In addition, at least four churches offered space for the Muslims to hold their services.
Victoria is a small city about 125 miles southwest of Houston with a population of about 65,000.
“Everyone knows everybody,” Robert Loeb, the president of the town’s Temple B’Nai Israel, told Forward. “I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them.”
On Wednesday, children from a local Catholic school marched to the mosque to form what the Islamic Center called “a human chain of love and peace.”
The students also presented the mosque with a tree.
“The tree will be planted in the grounds of our new mosque & prominently displayed to remind us of this beautiful moment,” the center wrote on Facebook. “This is the spirit of love where the cross hugs the crescent.”
The mosque, which serves a congregation of about 140 Muslims, burned early Saturday. The cause of the blaze is not yet known, and mosque leaders have cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“We are praying that it is an accident because the thought of actually somebody doing something terrible like that is beyond imagination,” mosque member Abe Ajrami told the Advocate.
A GoFundMe page set up for the mosque has raised more than $1 million so far.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” wrote Omar Rachid, who organized the campaign. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”