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Online Postings Creating Controversy About Donations To Tree Of Life Synagogue

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh transferred the remaining $85,000 worth of donations Wednesday afternoon to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to support the victims' families, survivors and first responders of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Squirrel Hill.

A quick scroll through Twitter, using #Pittsburgh, early Wednesday revealed some social media users were questioning where the money raised by the Muslim community was going. Several articles and posts used headlines such as "Muslim group that raised money for Pittsburgh synagogue kept almost all of the money."

KDKA went directly to Wasi Mohamed, the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh's executive director, who called the trending stories "fake news."

"Since the first day, we've been getting comments and people saying that there's no chance the Muslim community would actually care about the Jewish community, and we're just using this to steal the money," said Mohamed. "And [to] people sharing them, it's not true and it's fake news and it brings us apart."

One Twitter user, with 19,000 followers, posted: "They raised $400,000 for the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, but only $10,000 got to them."

Mohamed said all of these claims are false, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is backing him up.

"We know the money, 100 percent of the money, is going to go to the Jewish community. The rumors that are being spread, frankly, as far as I'm aware, are coming from outside of Pittsburgh," said Joshua Sayles, of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)


Sayles said he talks with Mohamed almost daily about the donations. The two even signed a receipt, posted on the public fundraising website, that shows the total raised as nearly $239,000, with $155,000 directly covering initial expense.

Sayles and Mohamed said the remaining money was transferred on Wednesday afternoon.

"We can give it today. We're going to give it today actually. We just got guidance today about where the money should go, and its going to be deposited now," said Mohamed on Wednesday morning.

The remaining nearly $85,000 will go to the "Victims of Terror Fund" for psychological services and support for families and first responders.

"Anyone who knows the Jewish and Muslim communities in Pittsburgh knows that we work very closely together, not only because we are Jews and Muslims, but because we are Pittsburgers," said Sayles.

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