Posted on | April 19, 2013As 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 religion had 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.”
Ayloush said a small number of Americans, goaded on by anti-Muslim extremist commentators on the Internet, may blame Islam for the tragedy.
“There are people who are exploiting the tragedy in Boston to exploit anti-Muslim fear and paranoia,” he said.
But he said Inland Muslims generally have found support after past terrorist acts that were committed by a Muslim.
“It has been a positive experience when their neighbors, coworkers and friends say that you can’t blame a whole group for the actions of a few,” Ayloush said.
Ayloush said he’s not spending time thinking about the possibility of verbal or physical abuse that could be directed at Southern California Muslims as a result of the Boston attacks.
“Our bigger sentiment has been and continues to be with the victims in Boston,” he said. “We shouldn’t take away our focus from them.”
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