A collective of Muslim groups in the US has raised almost $30,000 over the past two days for the families of victims of the Wednesday shooting spree at a social service centre that left 14 dead and 17 wounded in San Bernardino, California.

The Muslims United for San Bernardino initiative is seeking to raise at least $50,000 for the immediate needs of the bereaved relatives.

"If we exceed the $50,000 goal, we can even assist the families with long-term expenses or possibly donate to the regional centre where the shooting took place," the group said.

The project was launched on Friday by Faisal Qazi, the president of MiNDS, an award-winning charitable organisation based in Southern California, and Tarek El-Messidi, a prominent Islamic "social entrepreneur".

It has also been endorsed by numerous Muslim groups, including the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC) and the Council of American Islamic Relations.

'Showing solidarity'

Qazi told Al Jazeera that the fund was developed before the alleged shooters - who were Muslims - were identified, and so it was not initiated as an effort to prevent anti-Muslim sentiment in the event of a backlash.

"The people that suffered are our people and it is not just an obligation but a responsibility for us to be there - to show solidarity with the victims' families [and] be there for them in the short and long term," he said.

"Frankly, the fund was actually set up before [the] name of the assailant was revealed and before we knew a Muslim was allegedly involved. The crowdsourcing campaign was started the next day [after the attack] and later on, upon requests of Muslim scholars, it was expanded to be a national campaign.

"The message we would like to convey is that regardless of the political rhetoric and our concerns about a backlash, for now we are focused on things that are important and the people that need to be taken care of," he added. 

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Muzammil Siddiqi, the chairman of ISCSC, has praised the fund and urged all Muslims to contribute to it.

"We are sad at the suffering of our neighbours in San Bernardino. We are with them not only with the words of sympathy and condolences; we should show the acts of kindness and compassion," he said.

Muslims in Southern California have told Al Jazeera they were devastated to find out that the alleged assailants behind the massacre shared their faith, while some feared a backlash against the minority community.

On Sunday, there was also an interfaith memorial service to commemorate victims at the Islamic Center of Redlands, which is close to where the attack took place.

Source: Al Jazeera