With all the depressing videos we’ve posted over the years of hate preachers speaking at mosques in the UK, there is something reassuring about this:
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, angrily disrupted a January talk at a Cambridge [Massachusetts] 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.
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.
Tsarnaev also interrupted a talk last November when a speaker said it was fine for people to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and July 4, in the same way you celebrate the birthday of the Prophet. Tsarnaev challenged him and the two talked after service. “The brother was angry, but he left,’’ Vali said.
So whatever caused Tsarnaev’s turn toward violent and radical Islam, it apparently was not something he heard spoken publicly at that mosque.
(It is of course possible to dispute a comparison of the Prophet Mohammed to Martin Luther King, an advocate of non-violence. But clearly one point of the comparison was to reject the notion that Islam is an inherently violent and intolerant religion– which is hardly the worst message a mosque can send to worshipers.)
Muslim leaders in the Boston area have been outspoken in their disgust at the bombers:
At least one Boston cleric said he would refuse to perform funeral rites for a man accused of committing so much violence. The Quran, said Imam Talal Eid, says that anyone who has killed another human being is going to hell.
Eid, who is imam at the Boston Islamic Institute, said he had never met the Tsarnaev brothers but questioned media accounts that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a devout Muslim.
“A person who is devoted does not kill innocent people,” Eid said.
Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area, also rejected the Tsarnaev brothers.
“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,” he said.
“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.”