When a mosque burns, a Texas town defies national divisions

Victoria Islamic Center, via Facebook

Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas, burned nearly to the ground on Saturday night.

The cause of the fire isn’t known yet and it could be months before it is. But the people of Texas aren’t waiting. They’re pulling together to get it rebuilt.

A GoFundMe page set a goal of $850,000. As of this morning, more than $1 million has been donated.

“Several national media outlets contacted us today asking how?” the center’s Facebook page says today. “How a small city in South Texas defied the divisive national narrative and rallied together around its small Muslim community, how an incident that could have scarred the city was transformed into national pride?”

How, indeed?

“Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them,” Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, tells Forward.com. “When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together.”

“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue,” Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and one of the founders of the mosque, told the New York Times.

And therein lies the key to defying the divisiveness of America. Everyone knew each other.