Chicago Muslims condemn actions of Boston bombing suspects

 

At weekly prayer, congregations also brace for backlash

 

 

Condemnation.

That was the immediate response of Chicago Muslims when reports surfaced that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects shared their faith.

As a manhunt for one of the suspects unfolded Friday, Islamic communities across Illinois gathered for their weekly congregational prayers. Imams carefully wove their sermons around the news coverage, while the faithful prayed for protection from an inevitable backlash.

 

 

Fayed Khan, president of the Downtown Islamic Center, said even if the suspects claimed Islam as their world view, “their actions indicate they’re not Muslim.”

“It will be condemned to the ultimate extent,” Khan said, the urgency in his voice so intense his words ran together.

Just as the suspects’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni decried the potential scars inflicted upon the family’s Chechen community, Muslim doctors, lawyers, teachers and parents braced themselves for the types of insults, accusations and stares they’ve come to expect ever since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But it was evident on Friday that weariness now accompanies their urgency.

“Under current circumstances, there’s always a knee-jerk reaction. ‘Oh, God. Please keep us protected from wayward folks,’ ” said Kareem Irfan, a Chicago attorney and imam who preached in a Peoria mosque on Friday. “As a leader, I feel distressed that we have to respond with denial and condemnation. I hope it becomes more and more clear to society that there are nut jobs of all faiths.”

Similarly, Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, a physician and imam who preached in the Downtown Islamic Center in Chicago, resents the need to defend his community but has become resigned to that reality.

“We were holding our breath that the suspects or perpetrators would not be identified as Muslim,” said Kaiseruddin, who is also chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. “But it has happened now. The guy who sent the ricin letter, what faith did he belong to? Sandy Hook. What faith did he belong to? That was never reported. It’s becoming a routine drill for us, unfortunately.”

 

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Relatives of Marathon bombing suspects worried that older brother was corrupting ‘sweet’ younger sibling

04/19/2013 5:02 PM

Barcroft Media

At left, Tamerlan Tsarnaev practiced boxing at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in April 2009 in Boston. At right, Tsarnaev arrived at the martial arts center.

A relative of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said he repeatedly warned the 19-year-old fugitive Dzhokhar Tsarnaev about the bad influence of his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed overnight in a shootout with police.

A picture has begun to emerge of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother Dzhokhar — described almost universally as a smart and sweet kid — into an act of terror that killed three people and injured more than at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

“I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good,” Zaur Tsarnaev, who identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin, said in a phone interview on Friday from Makhachkala. “[Tamerlan] was always getting into trouble. He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man. I don’t like to speak about him. He caused problems for my family.”

Zaur Tsarnaev said he most recently expressed his concerns about Tamerlan — the alleged bomber pictured in a dark hat in FBI videos released Thursday — to Dzhokhar when Dzhokar visited last summer. He added that Dzhokhar went to mosque sometimes but he was “never an extremist.”

“Dzhokhar is a sweet boy, innocent. He was always smiling, friendly and happy,” Zaur Tsarnaev said. “I don’t know how he is involved in this.”

A YouTube account with Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name includes a playlist that features a video dedicated to the prophecy of the Black Banners of Khurasan, which is apparently embraced by Islamic extremists, including Al Qaeda. It could not be confirmed whether the user is the same person as the dead bombing suspect.

Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the suspects living in Maryland, said he has never known the family to have ill will toward the United States but when asked what may have provoked them, he said “being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else to do with religion, to do with Islam, it’s a fake.”

Tsarni said the suspects’ father, an auto mechanic, has had limited influence on them and recently moved back to Russia. Ruslan said he no longer has anything to do with that family, but would not elaborate on what led to the falling out.

“I just wanted my family away from them,” Tsarni said.

Dzhokar and Tamarlan Tsarnaev came from southern Russia, near war-torn Chechnya, more than five years ago, and assimilated through school and sports into the Greater Boston community and culture.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged bomber pictured in a dark hat in FBI videos released Thursday, was a talented boxer with hopes of joining the US Olympic team, people who knew him said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect seen in FBI photos in a white cap, is a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the school confirmed. He was an all-star wrestler and a member of the class of 2011 at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, and won a Cambridge City Scholarship that year. He was on the run Friday morning and the target of an unprecedented manhunt in Greater Boston.

But within the brothers’ ordinariness, there were also subtle signs of alienation.

“I don’t have a single American friend,” Tamerlan said in a photo essay about his love of boxing. “I don’t understand them.”

John Allan, owner of Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Boston, said the older brother, Tamerlan, was an accomplished amateur boxer, competing in the national Golden Gloves competition.

“He was the best boxer in Boston,” said Allan, who remembers helping in a competition three years ago. “He smoked all the professionals.”

Allan said Tsarnaev was trained by his father, who was also a skilled boxer. And he was always respectful. “They were an incredible family….This was so shocking to me.”

But Tsarnaev hadn’t been to the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in years, instead going to another nearby boxing gym. Until this month. Allan, who is currently traveling in Thailand, got an e-mail within the past week saying Tsarnaev showed up at the gym acting rude and disrespectful, using other people’s equipment, walking on the mats with his shoes.

“It was a clear indication that something was up,” Allan said, noting that Tsarnaev hadn’t even been to his gym before the incident in years. “He was becoming a complete [expletive].

“It was completely out of place of place for him,” said Allan, who was also contacted by the FBI about Tamerlan.

In the photo essay, called “Will Box for Passport,” Tamerlan stops to answer a phone call while walking from his Mercedes to the martial arts center. He has a long wool scarf wrapped fashionably around his neck and gleaming white leather slip-on shoes and is carrying an Oceanfly dufflebag.

He said in the essay that he quit smoking and drinking. “God said no alcohol.” A Muslim, he says, “There are no values any more,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”

People who knew the suspects struggled today morning to reconcile the young men they knew, who lived on Norfolk Street in Cambridge, with the acts of terrorism they are accused of committing.

“He was normal,” said Lulu Emmons, who went to Rindge & Latin, the city’s public high school, with Dzhokhar.

“He kind of fit in with everyone. Not really close with anyone, but he was friendly.

“I am just a little shocked. I sat next to this guy. I joked with him. I laughed with him. I had class with him. It is a little crazy,” she said.

Former teacher and school photographer at Rindge, Larry Aaronson, said he knew Dzhokhar.

“If someone were to ask me what the kid was like, I would say he had a heart of gold,” he said. “He was as gracious as possible.”

Aaronson knew Dzhokhar came from near a war zone and they had conversations about this. “All of this is just freaking me out.”

Pamala Rolon, a senior at UMass Dartmouth and a resident assistant at the Pine Dale dorms on campus, said she knew Dzhokhar for the past year and finds it incredible that he could have played any role in the bombs at the Boston marathon.

“He studied. He hung out with me and my friends,” she said in a telephone interview Friday. “I’m in shock.”

Rolon, 22, said the 300 or so students at the dorm were evacuated this morning by school authorities as the campus was shut down.

 

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Boston Bombings Have Led to Multiple Revenge Attacks on Innocent Muslims

Reuters
Rebecca Greenfield Apr 19, 2013

The same week that the New York Post first falsely reported the Boston bombing suspect was  a Saudi national then falsely put a Moroccan-American track runner on its cover, it accurately reported on Friday an attack on an innocent Bangladeshi man living in the Bronx who some “idiots” mistook for an Arab. Abdullah Faruque, a South Asian network engineer, was at an Applebees on Monday night when he was accosted by a group of three or four men, reports the Post, after they asked if he was an Arab. It wasn’t until he got home, his shoulder dislocated, that he found out about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. “I saw the news, and then it hits me: That’s why I got jumped,” he told the Post.

It’s possible for this sort of baseless revenge to happen, with or without the Post‘s help. But it’s worth wonderng where these men— and the one who assaulted a Muslim doctor in Boston, and the ones who vandalized the future site of a Boston mosque—got the idea for taking out revenge on a “dark skinned male”  in the wake of the bombing.

 

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