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April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET

Muslim leaders condemn bombing suspects

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.

"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.

"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians."

Vali said Friday that none of his staff were familiar with the suspects, identified by the FBI as brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19. The elder brother died at a Boston hospital early Friday after a gunbattle with police. Authorities captured the younger man Friday night.

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On Saturday the Islamic Society of Boston Cambridge Masjid, a small mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, issued a statement saying both men occasionally attended prayer services there.

"In their visits, they never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior. Otherwise they would have been immediately reported to the FBI," according to the statement, which was read aloud by a congregant outside the mosque.

"After we learned of their identities, we encouraged anyone who knew them in our congregation to immediate report to law enforcement, which has taken place."

The congregant didn't take questions from reporters. The mosque is not related to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

Beyond their occasional attendance at services, few other details are known about the brothers' religious practices, apart from remarks by relatives and comments attributed to the elder brother by a photographer, none of which portrayed the brothers as particularly devout.

Messages on a Twitter account attributed to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and posted in the days after the bombings, were broadly secular. Various interviews with high school and college classmates of Dzhokar Tsarnaev offered no hints of a particular interest in religion. Leaders of Boston's Muslim community contacted on Friday said they didn't know the brothers.

However, other parts of the older brother's online and social media presence indicate that he was deeply religious, especially in recent years. His aunt said within the past two years he had begun to pray five times a day. Some of the links on his YouTube channels are to lectures by radical preachers, but the content of those lectures is more to do with religious practice than jihad or Islamist militancy.

Muslim leaders are worried because of past reprisals against their community after terror attacks attributed to members of their faith.

On Friday, the suspects' mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told Russian Television that her oldest son "got involved in religion five years ago."

"My youngest was raised from 8 years in America, my oldest he was really properly raised in our house," Tsarnaeva said.

"Nobody talked about terrorism. Tamerlan got involved in religion five years ago. Started following his own religion, never told me he could be on side of jihad. He was followed by FBI for three years, knew what he was doing, where on Internet he was going. How could this happen, they were controlling every step of him, now they are saying this is a terrorist act.

"It's impossible for them to do such things. I am really telling you that this is a setup. My son would never keep it in secret. My son, you tell me, my son wouldn't keep it secret. Who would be knowing? If there is anyone who would know it would be me. He wouldn't hide it. But there was never a word."

The suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, described his nephews as "losers" who happened to be Muslims.

Tsarni told reporters outside his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland, that his nephews' religion played no role in the attacks.

"Anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it's a fraud, it's a fake," said Tsarni, who described the family as peace-loving, ethnic Chechens.

"Somebody radicalized them, but it's not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars," he said. "My family had nothing to do with that family. Of course, we're ashamed, yes, we're ashamed they're children of my brother."

Asked what might have motivated his nephews to carry out such an attack, he said: "Being losers; hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine."

Tsarni said his brother's family arrived in the United States in 2003 and was granted asylum. He said he had not seen them since December 2005 and last spoke with them in 2009.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev talked briefly about his faith - and his aspiration to become a U.S. citizen and box for the U.S. Olympic team - with a photographer while training at a Boston gym to compete in a Golden Gloves competition.

Photographer Johannes Hirn posted an online photo essay of Tamerlan Tsarnaev titled "Will Box for Passport."

One of the captions for the photos reads "Tsarnaev, a Muslim, doesn't drink or smoke. 'God said no alcohol,' he says."

By Friday afternoon, a a link to the photos said the gallery was "private and cannot be viewed."

In Washington, Muslim leaders again condemned the attacks, sent condolences to the victims and said they were concerned with reprisal attacks against Muslims in the United States.

"Those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Boston must face justice," Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, referred to as CAIR, told reporters at a hastily called news conference.

"The question will always come up if they are associated with our community," Awad said.

"Our community and our faith detest and deplore these actions and these individuals. We do not know the motives of these individuals but our position has been consistent. Any act of violence against innocent people is deplorable and is condemned in our faith.

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"As God tells us in the Quran, if you murder one person it is as if you murdered all humanity. And if you saved one person, one innocent life, it is like you saved all of humanity," Awad said.

Imam Magid of the Islamic Society of North America said his group has set up a fund to help the bombing victims.

"These are acts of crime, not acts of religion," Benjamin Abdul-Haqq, an imam at Masjid Muhammad mosque in Washington, told the news conference.

Corey Saylor, legislative director for CAIR, said the group feared reprisals.

"We're very concerned, because in past instances some individuals have decided to go out and target further innocent people because they look different or belong to a faith that is a minority," Saylor said.

One reporter asked the leaders gathered at the news conference how they could combat radical videos that pop up on social media.

Saylor said community leaders have forcefully pushed back against what they consider radical elements of the faith.

"Unfortunately every faith has within in it heretical elements, and unfortunately young people in general will listen to those elements."

Saylor said he and other leaders would continue to push back against the heretical element "loudly and clearly."

"We will stand up, we will push back against extremists, and I'm very comfortable we'll win against them eventually."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Massachusetts • Muslim • Quran • Terrorism • Violence

soundoff (742 Responses)
  1. Abu Yusef

    Another covert operation by zionist sponsered agencies to demonize the beautiful religion of Islam and the beautiful concept of Jihad. Muslims should not and will never apologize for this nonsense because Islam and Muslims have nothing to do with it. Such filth can only be done by the same people who justify dropping A-bombs on innocent people vaporizing a 100,000 of them. These are the people behind the controlled demolition of WTC, these are the people who killed JFK, these are the people who control the "source of information" in the media. If you read any of these articles on CNN, Fox, CNBC, NBC etc. have you ever wondered who that "US offocial" or "source" is?? Sharia strictly prohibits harming innocent people, women and children even in war situations. Human beings can only change with love and beautiful preaching. The only people that benefit from these covert operations is the government agencies giving them extra $$$ of our tax dollars. Such lies and hate will only shatter the hearts of Muslims making them stronger believers and stronger followers of the beautiful religion of Islam. Enough is enough.

    April 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Lizbeth

      I don't know what to say exactly. But if it means anything I know that there are decent people who are Muslims. Politics are scary stuff. Agencies are very scary stuff. Religion in my opinion is just an opinion and I don't fautl anybody for theirs and I never will.

      April 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • The One True Steve

      You must be an Ahmadiyya Muslim ... are you??? Only Ahmadiyya Muslims preach peace and mean it. Otherwise this is just taqiyya ( the Muslim Lie) ... So I ask you again ... what kind of Muslim are you??? Break it down into what branch of the uncountable versions of Islam you follow. Or remain silent and prove that Islam is the religion of Pieces...

      April 27, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • Abu Yusef

      Ahmadiyya are non-Muslims. They are not even Muslims. This shows how much you and others really know about Islam. And Taqiyyah is a shia concept. And shias are majority of them are also disbelievers. They worship Ali as their God. I follow Sunni Islam, more specifically AhlusSunnah wal Jama'a. Why would we do Taqiyyah. To hide that we are bad people? Lol. I would suggest you stop reading the anti-Islamic material from the internet or written in books by Islam haters who call themselves Islamic scholars. Give me your sources of information and we can talk otherwise dont hate. No human can tolerate the pain of hell fire, so why so much hate and ignorance?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Saraswati

      Wow, Abu Yusef, you are seriously deluded. Islam may not be evil, but nor is it all good and beautiful. You are like every mother of a murderer who can't believe her little one would kill. Get over your conspiracy theory, persecution complex nonsense and try looking at the world through realistic eyes. The US is neither saintly nor evil. Same for Islam. Same for almost every group that has had a presence on the earth. Until you can remove your blinders and see the real world before you that world and its beautiful, and sometimes frightening, complexity will escape you. And, I'm afraid, your ignorance, and that of others like you, will be the very danger we all fear.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  2. A dumb question

    Okay this question is probably going to sound bad to all of you but I don't understand. WHY would anybody want to convert someone into their belief system? Who or what you pray too?? It doesn't make sense. That's like trying to dictate how someone daydreams.

    April 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  3. bta

    muslims are kiling and suiciding why they are going anti quran? why always they are beside any attack? at any explossion officials suspect muslims and they become right. why?why? why? question for muslims. they are anger in America but why on their brothers praying in mosque on friday?
    God bless the true anti terorist and good muslims.

    April 25, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Science

      And laws of association makes it part of the devil's cults too ...........does it not............. bta ?

      The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

      Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

      Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

      April 25, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  4. Trance

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKxk9TvyJrs

    April 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  5. B Dubya

    Ma & Pa aren't in denial too much. Have no idea what their kids are up to, but quick to defend the little murderers. You both would do well to go hide in a hole.

    April 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  6. jonat

    Every mosque built in the USA was funded by the Saudi Royal Family and many are administered by the Muslim Brotherhood. Why is that?

    April 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • mindstorms

      Jonat, I don't know if every Mosque is funded by the Saudi's but what is clear is that the Saudi version of Islam (Wahhabism) is one of the most extreme interpretation of Islam. Most of the one billion Muslims in the world do not practice this extreme form of Islam. However, because of the tremendous wealth the Saudi's definitely have financed many Islamic activities around the world. Some of that money finds its way into groups that carry out terrorists activities in the name of Islam. The fact is that the Saudi royal government literally pays off the extremists Imans in their own country so they will not cause problems in Saudi Arabia. Some of this payoff money ends up financing extremists.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • I dunno

      But you probably can't expect the Catholics to build them, huh?

      April 24, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • *Sigh*

      Most, possibly almost all, mosques are NOT funded by SA. Most of the mosques do not contain an Arab majority. SA looks down upon non-Arabs. Try being non-Arab and getting a job in SA. It's like being an illegal immigrant.

      April 30, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  7. Joe800

    ."I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center,"...
    .....wow, how convenient, just disavow what madrases and imans ALLL over the world are preaching in mosques...how about we try this for immigration reform: no immigrants allowed from countries that : 1) we are at war 2) harbor terrorists 3) practice sharia law 4) receive any aid from the US....

    April 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • na

      Gorilla power at work.Stand Back!!!.lol !!

      April 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  8. lagergeld

    Christianity: The religion in which its clergy doesn't have to keep apologizing because its adherents aren't repeatedly blowing everyone up.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Food for Thought

      Amen!

      May 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  9. Entil'za

    Not meaning to make light of the situation but doesn't Dzhokar Tsarnaev look like a young Patrick Dempsey? Go google "Can't Buy Me Love" and see for yourself.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Pete Clarke

    Muslims frighten me,sick of hearing about their peaceful beliefs, sick of their whining about how Americans are pregidous against them, If you believe in some tribal crazy religion,59 virgins and a load of other crap keep it to yourself. I'm just tired of being scared of you and think twice before exposing myself in some public gathering for fear of being blown to bits. Use that Sharia law on each other.

    April 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      If you believe in some tribal crazy religion, a virgin boinking god, and a risen savior, keep it to yourself.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • na

      You have the right to your opinion.Every religion has its extremist elements and that will not change. When the IRA was doing their bombing no one accused all Christians of being extremist. The majority of Muslims cannot stop extremist individuals or groups from harming others if they themselves are not aware of these people. If a Muslim was aware of such extreme individuals or groups they would absolutely report them to the authorities. Also the government needs to change their immigration policies. These two individuals got asylum in the United States yet their parents and one of them traveled to their home country.Something is broken.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • zee

      First of all, you clearly have no clue about our religion. You can't insult all the Muslims with the beliefs that you have. Not all of us are "terrorists." As a matter of fact, if you look at the statistics only 6% of terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims. What happened to the other 94%. Majority of that award goes to Americans 😉

      April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Sane Person

      70% of terrorist attacks worldwide in. 2011 were committed by Muslims, making them the majority of terrorists for 3 years in a row.

      8 out of 10 of the most violent countries are Muslim countries.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Bigotry

      Is alive and well in the posts of Sam and Pete.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • sam stone

      how so?

      i am just repackaging pete clarke's statement, and giving it back to him

      April 24, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Patriot

      If you really are sick of them, why not get off your rear and kill every one of them in sight? Otherwise you are just a lying libturd hiding on the internet pretending to complain.

      April 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  11. Dan

    Muslim leaders should shut up and ban on all training camps in Russia Pak and Afghanistan...
    They will not do that....they will be killed.....

    April 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • na

      You have the right to your opinion.Every religion has its extremist elements and that will not change. When the IRA was doing their bombing no one accused all Christians of being extremist. The majority of Muslims cannot stop extremist individuals or groups from harming others if they themselves are not aware of these people. If a Muslim was aware of such extreme individuals or groups they would absolutely report them to the authorities. Also the government needs to change their immigration policies. These two individuals got asylum in the United States yet their parents and one of them traveled to their home country.Something is broken.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Food for Thought

      na, when the IRA was boming, it was localized in Ireland, unfortunately, that's not the case with muslim extremists – they are world wide. BIG difference.

      May 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  12. Dan

    Their goal is massive reproduction and they will not rest until each and everyone is a Mus.......Period...it is too late USA to realize now

    April 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Same as the catholics...funny.

      April 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • In all honesty

      There is a big shortage of people who don't try and convert you into their opinions.

      April 24, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  13. Just Wondering

    Did these "muslim leaders" also condem the "American" family members of the bombers for not contacting authorities when their photos went up"? Naw, didn't think so.

    April 23, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  14. in home care for seniors

    Incredible! Seriously useful info. So i'm bookmarking the particular webpage immediately. Thanks! in home care for seniors http://biwakofood.com/benefits-of-home-take-care-of-senior-citizens-family-senior-citizens/

    April 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  15. Derp

    It's a national safety issue now. STOP GRANTING ASYLUM TO PEOPLE AND STOP ALLOWING PEOPLE TO IMMIGRATE HERE!! We can't even provide jobs for our own citizens, and we have these H1-b Visas and these Asylum cases and all this other crap.

    NO MORE. NO MORE IMMIGRATION PERIOD!!!! THE NEXT TIME AN IMMIGRANT THAT KILLS AN AMERICAN WE SHOULD KILL ONE MEMBER OF CONGRESS FOR EVERY US CITIZEN THAT DIES UNTIL THIS IS FIXED!!!

    April 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • The real Tom

      What a dope you are.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Larry

      ..Although you say your name is "Derp", we know your name is really "Dope".

      April 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • clarity

      "no more immigration..." This country was founded on Immigration you idiot. Other countries strive to be like us and want to come here.

      April 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Saraswati

      And THAT, my friends, is how you get yourself on the FBI watch list.

      April 23, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • seyed ibar

      Immigration is fine, so long as they leave their primitive beliefs behind. We should ban religion from being imported and quell what is left of it here.

      April 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • na

      Asylum seekers needs more scrutiny and the immigration officials need to do more investigative analysis before granting a resident status. These two individuals got asylum in the United States yet their parents and one of them traveled to their home country.Something is broken in the system.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  16. His panic

    You know that guy in Iran Mahmud Ahmanidejab? I'm his Panic!

    April 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  17. ashevilleJeff

    I find it quite ironic that the peace-loving, pacifist who was carjacked by these Muslim thugs had a cute little "coexist" bumper sticker on his Mercedes.
    I want peace, but I also am a realist. The goal of Muslims is to convert all of us. Those kuffar who do not convert are subject to the types of jihad we are now beginning to see on American soil. This is only the beginning, folks. You can stick your head in the sand and claim this isn't Islam OR you can open your eyes and see it for what it is.
    Remember one more thing when you hear the imams disavowing these acts: Muslims WILL lie to advance their cause. This is called Taqiyya and is a common practice. Please open your eyes and read this link:

    https://sites.google.com/site/muslimdeception/taqiyya

    April 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • G to the T

      The goal of Christians is to convert us all. They've just been (mostly) pacified by several decades of people pushing back on them in this country...

      April 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • na

      Before you blast filth at others, take a hard look at your own self. Christians did their own share of repression when they first came to America. Look for the facts in history. You have the right to your opinion.Every religion has its extremist elements and that will not change. When the IRA was doing their bombing no one accused all Christians of being extremist. The majority of Muslims cannot stop extremist individuals or groups from harming others if they themselves are not aware of these people. If a Muslim was aware of such extreme individuals or groups they would absolutely report them to the authorities. Also the government needs to change their immigration policies. These two individuals got asylum in the United States yet their parents and one of them traveled to their home country.Something is broken.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Patriot

      FYI taqiyya is a shia concept, not mainstream. Also, which of the 3200 versions of Islam are they all trying to convert us into?

      April 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  18. Science

    Hey HS + BS =

    Unusual Anal Fin Offers New Insight Into Evolution

    Apr. 10, 2013 — An unusual fossil fish that has fins behind its anus

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410082201.htm

    April 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  19. Vic

    John 13:34
    "34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzZ6IShGwng

    April 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  20. STFU

    and whip ass with bare hands was/is one of the fundamentals of Islam, and it is still being practiced in muslim countries, I am not kidding. I know someone from Pakistan told me once, they don't have potties or bathrooms, every house has an appx 6" hole in the floor, muslims sit on top of the hole and shoot, once they are relieved, they whip ass with BARE hands, and [supposed to] wash hands, but common practice in muslim world is THEY DON'T WASH THEIR HANDS. PERIOD. Can you shed some more light on your Islamic custom Mohammad A. Dar !!

    April 21, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.