Metro Detroit Muslims condemn Boston Marathon bombings
- By Mark Hicks
- The Detroit News
As a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was charged Monday and more details emerge about possible connections to religious extremism, Metro Detroit Muslim and community groups are condemning the crime as an act unrelated to their faith.
“Their ideology or misunderstandings of religion do not come from the mainstream Islamic scholars in Boston or in the United States of America,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan. “It’s unfortunate that one or two people with misguided views can be looked at by some as representative of who we are as American Muslims.”
Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged by federal prosecutors in his hospital room Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill — a crime that carries a possible death sentence.
Officials have said Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother set off the twin explosions at last week’s race that killed three people and wounded more than 180. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, died Friday after a fierce gun battle with police.
The brothers are ethnic Chechens, said their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an amateur boxer and a Muslim who told friends, “I’m very religious,” according to an account by Johannes Hirn, a freelance photographer who profiled him.
Two years ago, the FBI interviewed the older brother at the request of an unnamed foreign government “based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam” and preparing to join underground groups in that country, according to an agency statement. The interview and reviews of U.S. databases turned up no evidence of terror activity, the FBI said.
News of the suspected tie to extremism dismayed Muslims in Metro Detroit, who suspect the bombings could have been motivated more by political views than religious ones.
“Religion would never ever allow killing,” said Victor Begg, senior adviser and spokesman for the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “None of our faiths teach doing what they did. … It’s outrageous.”
Whatever the reason for the act, some Muslims fear the alleged connection to their religion could spark a backlash from the public — including discrimination or hate crimes.
Soon after the bombings last week, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee issued a national advisory, warning residents to be cautious and report suspected hate crimes.
None had been reported at the Michigan chapter by Monday, but numerous calls have poured in from residents seeking tips for dealing with discrimination, regional director Imad Hamad said. “It’s the daily talk around the clock.”
But despite the possibilities, local Muslims are “not in a panic situation,” he said. “We’re not in a situation where we live in fear. We are an integral part of this American nation. We see ourselves in the heart of it.”