Who is Hussain?, a Muslim organization, donated 30,000 bottles of water to the Red Cross in Flint, Michigan, for residents to drink in place of the contaminated water that has been plaguing their city for months.
The water in the city is now so contaminated with man-made materials that the city has switched its supply to the nearby Flint River, which is also heavily polluted.
President Barack Obama has declared the situation a federal state of emergency, as protesters, including filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore, fill the streets in the town demanding he take action.
Although up to $5 million in federal aid has been cleared up to deal with the man-made crisis, Obama cannot declare Flint a federal disaster area, because that declaration is reserved for natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A local campaign has already collected dozens of cases of water bottles, and online donations from people all over the country raised funds to purchase more. Who is Hussain? added to that total with their donation.
“We saw what needed to be done and we decided to do it,” said Dr. Aziza Askari, spokesman for the Michigan chapter of Who is Hussain? “We reached out to schools, neighbors, friends, mosques, anyone and everyone to help us by donating a case of water, or money towards a case.”
The name Who is Hussain? comes from early Islamic leader, Imam Hussain ibn Ali, who was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the faith. After being denied water for several days, Hussain ibn Ali was brutally killed. He had been protesting the growing extremism and violence in the Muslim world.
Because Ali died due to being denied water, Who is Hussain? has taken on the provision of water as its organizational mission. Those who follow Hussain’s teachings believe that denying someone water under any circumstances is a serious crime. They distribute water to people in the situation in Flint and others like it.
They also fast by forgoing food and water to commemorate Hussain’s sacrifice on the anniversary of his death each year.
“Prophet Mohammed taught us ‘Your neighbor comes before your own household.’ As a resident of Detroit this is not only a Flint problem this is a Michigan problem and I feel obligated to help to the best of my ability,” said Mohammed Almawla, a volunteer and local filmmaker.
The city of Dearborn, Mich., located about an hour away from Flint, has the highest population of Muslims in the United States. According to the 2000 Census, the Arab population of Dearborn was 29 percent.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has allegedly ignored months of reports of problems with water quality in the Flint area. The agency has fought with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over water quality treatments. The EPA has also been criticized for its handling of the problem.
Meanwhile, Moore protested along with a crowd in Flint, demanding Obama land in the city and talk to the people affected by the crisis.
“If Obama flies over the city of Flint, it will be his New Orleans,” Moore told reporters, referring to the criticism President George W. Bush received for his handling of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He also called for the arrest of Gov. Rick Snyder for causing the crisis.
“We’re taking every action within reason, and going beyond reason to address this,” Snyder told the Detroit Free Press. “This is something you wish that never happened, and let’s see that it never happens again in the state of Michigan.”