‘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.

 

 

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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.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE 

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

Don’t scapegoat a faith for bombings

130420124125-khera-muslim-woman-with-flag-story-topEditor’s note: Farhana Khera is the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith.

(CNN) — Like so many Americans across the country, I was shocked when I heard of the attacks at the Boston Marathon. A part of me immediately traveled back to when I was cheering runners myself as a student at Wellesley College, the midpoint for the marathon, a time when such dangers as bombings never crossed our minds.

Boston is an indelible part in the personal history and identity of those who have lived or attended school in the city. That someone had detonated bombs at an event that symbolized unity in a place known for its rich diversity and as a birthplace of our nation’s freedom was heartbreaking.

This last week has seen a whirlwind of fighting in a dramatic manhunt, leaving an entire city on lockdown and lives in danger. I am heartened to hear stories where the human spirit rose above the ugliness and absolute horror facing the community. Law enforcement officers and other first responders risked their lives to help others. Several marathoners ran straight to the hospital to give blood, and doctors rushed to hospitals. A restaurant opened its doors and offered free food to its neighbors while they were stuck in a lockdown.

It is these testaments of unity and heroism that make us stronger. Bostonians are coming together and helping each other because, as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, “When tragedy strikes, we are … one family. We hurt together, we help each other together.”

BOSTON ATTACKS: Islam condemns violence, Muslim leader reiterates

hussam-ayloushAs news emerges that the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya, an Inland Muslim leader emphasized something he’s had to repeat every time a suspect in a terrorist attack is Muslim: Violence against innocent people is a severe violation of the teachings of Islam.

“A person who claims an Islamic basis for such a heinous crime is no more faithful to the teachings of Islam than a KKK member who claims a biblical basis in committing bigoted crimes,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a Corona resident.

“Islam’s teachings are very clear in protecting the sanctity of life,” he said. “Anyone who claims to be a Muslim cannot act in opposition to those teachings.”

One of the suspects, Dzhokhar Tsamaev, posted links to Muslim websites on a Russian-language social media site. He also posted links to websites advocating Chechen independence from Russia. Chechen rebels fought two unsuccessful wars for secession in the 1990s.

But the suspects’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said he believed religionhad nothing to do with his nephews’ motivations.

“Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine,” he said “Anything else, anything else to do with religion is a fraud. It’s a fake. We’re Muslims. We’re ethnic Chechens.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PRESS ENTERPRISE

As a Bostonian and Muslim, I wept Monday – and worried

Boston Marathon explosionIt seems that until proven otherwise, terrorists are Muslims, and for some, all Muslims are terrorists

“Shave your stubble before you come to bed, Haider,” I told my husband Monday night. He looked up at me from the computer chair without the slightest hint of protest and smiled, “of course”. A couple of hours into the night, with him sound asleep right next to me – asleep like nothing had happened – I shivered from post-traumatic stress. Cold sweat trickled down the side of my forehead meeting warm tears at the corner of my eye and disappearing into a big, wet circle on the pillow. It was my second Patriot’s Day Boston Marathon, my husband’s third. I recalled spending all evening answering calls from back home in Pakistan, saying often, “Allah nay bachaya,” (Allah saved us). But did he?

Earlier on Monday, I was sitting with Haider and three other friends around small tables at the Prudential Center food court when we heard, and felt, the loud thud. If we were around a table somewhere in Karachi, Pakistan, my hometown, we would have said a little prayer in our hearts and continued eating, hoping that by the time we were done, the roads would re-open and life would resume. Such is our threshold for bomb-like noises and actual life-consuming explosions.

But in the heart of Boston, on a day of celebration, it could only be Godzilla, or some other giant lizard, someone joked. Within 20 seconds, though, buried under a horde of people and after the ensuing stampede, we ended up on the terrace looking over Boylston Street – a stone’s throw away from where the second blast had just occurred. Soon, a distraught mob pushed us right back into the food court. Unfinished bites and sentences, deserted strollers and upturned chairs – the large mall appeared ghastly.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONDON GUARDIAN