‘What unites us is always stronger than what divides us’

More than 1,700 people attended an interfaith service at Temple Israel of Boston Friday evening to hear messages of unity on the eve of the controversial “Boston Free Speech” rally.

“What unites us is always stronger than what divides us,” Attorney General Maura Healey told the crowd.




Muslim-American delegates to DNC celebrated at send-off



WORCESTER— More than two dozen Muslims and local politicians gathered Thursday evening to celebrate the state’s three Muslim delegates to the Democratic National Convention and encourage others in their faith to participate in the political process.

The Second Congressional District is sending two Muslim-American delegates to next week’s convention in Philadelphia: Noman Khanani, 24, of Worcester and Homaira Naseem, 59, of Boylston — both of whom are Bernie Sanders delegates.

The Fifth Congressional District is sending one delegate, Nazda Alam, of Weston.

“For us it really is a milestone, for our capacity,” said Amjad Bhatti, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester, which hosted the event.

Bhatti emphasized that the society does not endorse any political positions or parties, but that it encourages Muslims to get involved in politics, a field within which he thinks they are under-represented.


Boston Muslims Struggle to Wrest Image of Islam From Terrorists

BOSTON1-jumboBOSTON — Yusufi Vali was hunched over his computer at this city’s biggest mosque, where he is executive director, when the first phone call came. The police had killed a man a few miles away. Soon there were reports that the man was a Muslim who had been under investigation for terrorism.

And so the news media inquiries began. More than 100 calls came to the mosque over the next few days. Mr. Vali would explain, over and over, that the young man fatally shot after pulling a knife on the police on June 2 had only the slightest connection to the mosque: He had been hired by a security contractor to guard the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in 2013.

No, he was not a regular at prayers. No, Mr. Vali did not recall meeting him. No, he could not shed light on any purported plan to behead a police officer, except to say that such a thing would be abhorrent.

“It weighs on you,” Mr. Vali, a rail-slender 31-year-old Princeton graduate, said of the fallout from the latest allegations of terrorist plotting in the name of Islam. “I don’t have control over what these people do. It’s frustrating to have it put on us.”


Hard teaching: Amid fear and division, what does it mean to love our Muslim neighbors?


by Josh Graves

Dr. Amir Arain is a good friend of mine. We’ve worked together on several projects during the four years I’ve lived in Nashville, Tenn.

Amir is a top neurologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center and a leading professor at Vanderbilt University. He also happens to be the spokesman on matters of faith and culture for the Nashville Islamic Center.

While Amir is from Pakistan, he became a U.S. citizen. He is dedicated to his adopted country and is as devout to his faith and family as I am to mine. The same is true of my immediate neighbors: Baha, Nima, Arin and Alan Hassan.

In Dearborn, Mich. — just 20 minutes from where I grew up — U.S. citizens make up the single largest concentration of Arabs in the world outside of the Middle East. These Muslim leaders are doctors, teachers, military servants and spiritual directors. They are part of the fabric of our nation.

I immediately thought of my Muslim neighbors — Amir, the Hassan family and the people of Dearborn — when the Islamic religious affiliation of the two brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon emerged.

We can’t make sense of the horrific and despicable actions allegedly carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. But neither should we conclude that most Muslims are hateful, violent and vengeful people.


Why is Boston ‘terrorism’ but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?

sandy-hook-volunteer-fire-rescue-members-mourn-newtown-connTwo very disparate commentators, Ali Abunimah and Alan Dershowitz, both raised serious questions over the weekend about a claim that has been made over and over about the bombing of the Boston Marathon: namely, that this was an act of terrorism. Dershowitz was on BBC Radio on Saturday and, citing the lack of knowledge about motive, said (at the 3:15 mark): “It’s not even clear under the federal terrorist statutes that it qualifies as an act of terrorism.” Abunimah wrote a superb analysis of whether the bombing fits the US government’s definition of “terrorism”, noting that “absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted ‘in furtherance of political or social objectives'” or that their alleged act was ‘intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.'” Even a former CIA Deputy Director, Phillip Mudd, said on Fox News on Sunday that at this point the bombing seems more like a common crime than an act of terrorism.

Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word “terrorism” was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that “terrorism” either.


Dead Bombing Suspect at Odds with Muslim Community

Boston Marathon SuspectsTamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, angrily disrupted a January talk at a Cambridge mosque when a speaker compared the Prophet Mohammed and the peace activist Martin Luther King Jr., the second time in recent months that Tsarnaev’s radical theology collided with mainstream Muslim faith at a public religious talk.

In the days since the suspects were identified last week, a picture has emerged of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the elder of the two brothers, who was killed Friday in the battle with police — as an increasingly militant immigrant, whom family members described as unhappy and mean.

His brother Dzhokhar, 19, captured Friday night, is in serious condition and under heavy guard at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has a gunshot wound to his throat, said US Senator Dan Coats, a Republican on the Select Intelligence Committee, on ABC’s “This Week.’’

New details on the brothers’ fight with police suggests Tamerlan was killed when his brother ran him over, dragging Tamerlan underneath his car in his bid to escape.

In disrupting the talk in January at the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s shouted at a speaker: “You are a Kafir” – a nonbeliever, according to Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque. Tsarnaev went on to say the speaker was contaminating people’s minds, and accused him of being a hypocrite.

The congregation disagreed, according to Vali, and “shouted him out of the mosque” on Prospect Street.