Muslim activist speaks about rasicm, adversity and charity

Faatimah Knight, a 23-year old Muslim activist, spoke in the community room of the Christopher Center about her organization “Respond with Love.” They have raised money to help rebuild African American churches which were recently burned in the south.

Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old Muslim activist, spoke to Valparaiso University students and faculty about how African Americans and Muslims have been affected by the burning of eight churches in the south.

One event in particular sparked the outrage in the south, when a Christian man shot and killed nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“The shooter had an old hate in his heart, a racist hate,” Knight said.

She stressed that the shooter killed these people because they were black.

In the days following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, several churches went up in flames. Knight said the destruction of the churches was to achieve one goal, “to scare the black community.”

Many people believe that these attacks were race-motivated crimes, with the sole purpose of causing harm to another race.

Knight was most concerned that the church burnings were not being televised. People, including Knight, learned about them through social media.

“Race motivated violence is not something we want to talk about,” Knight said.

Knight and several others created the organization “Respond with Love” based on her belief that protecting others’ basic rights is what God wants people to do.

The goal was to raise $10,000 to help with the rebuilding of the destroyed churches. However, this goal was surpassed within 24 hours. Knight and the rest of the group raised $20,000 in only two and a half days.

After the original goal was met, the group decided to see how much they could raise without setting a cap. In the past few weeks, Respond with Love has raised $100,000 for the victims of the eight churches burned, and for the shooting victims at the AME.

Over 90 percent of the donors were Muslims. The other 10 percent were from various other religious and nonreligious beliefs. The $100,000 was raised both nationally and internationally.

Knight said the group was not without adversity, as they collected donations on empty stomachs through the month of Ramadan. She continued to say that the challenges the group  made their mission more inspiring and personal.

One faculty member wanted to know when the money was sent to the churches. Knight responded that the checks were sent out in the second week of September.

A student asked Knight what steps naturalized and international Muslims can take to further help the African American community, to which Knight responded that listening to other points of view was a great start.

"People need to go outside of their comfort zones of different races and cultures,” Knight said. “Once you get involved with issues, you get into different spaces that are outside of your comfort zone.”

After the funds were raised, Knight said all she wanted people to know is that people care about them.

“Everyone, we believe, should have the right to worship and safety,” Knight said.

Contact Andrew Whitmyer at torchnews@valpo.

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