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U.S. Muslims mobilize to prevent Boston backlash

A Police officer stands by as runners pass during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy Sonia Su via Flickr (

(RNS) No sooner had the reality of the Boston Marathon bombing sunk in on Monday (April 15) afternoon than Muslim activists in the U.S. began sending out a slew of news releases, tweets and Facebook messages urging prayers and aid for the victims – and condemning whoever was behind the horrific attack.

A Police officer stands by as runners pass during the 2013 Boston Marathon.  Photo courtesy Sonia Su via Flickr (

A Police officer stands by as runners pass during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy Sonia Su via Flickr (

“American Muslims, like Americans of all backgrounds, condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s cowardly bomb attack on participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement on Monday.

It’s a familiar race against time for Muslim groups. Almost as soon as the smoke cleared around Copley Square, they knew from long experience that some would immediately point the finger of blame in their direction.

Many widely believed Muslims were behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, until American militiaman Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the crime.

“We also call for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators,” Awad added, echoing a statement from the Muslim Public Affairs Council that called on “all of us as Americans to work together to bring those responsible to justice.”

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations. RNS photo courtesy the Council on American Islamic Relations

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations. RNS photo courtesy the Council on American Islamic Relations

Still, conservative columnist and Fox News guest Erik Rush quickly sent out tweets blaming Muslims, adding in one, “Let’s kill them,” a post he subsequently deleted. “Jihad in America,” wrote anti-Muslim blogger Pam Geller.

Speaking about the bombings on his ”700 Club” program, Pat Robertson was also furious: “Don’t talk to me about religion of peace” – the way Muslims describe their faith – “No way.”

On his show, conservative host Glenn Beck opined that “no American citizen blows up random people; that’s a Middle Eastern scene, that’s not an American scene. When our crazies go off, they target the government, not streets that are crowded with people.”

On Monday afternoon, the New York Post had to pull a story that reported that police had a Saudi suspect in custody. Later reports that a Saudi national’s apartment near Boston had been searched also raised anxieties among Muslims; the man, who was wounded in the bombing, was subsequently cleared.

“Discrimination against Muslims has been a real dynamic in the United States,” said Christina Warner, campaign director of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a national interfaith alliance of Muslims, Jews and Christians who combat anti-Muslim prejudice. “We’ve already seen some reports falsely identifying the perpetrator as a Saudi individual when he was just a witness.”

“Obviously it’s a matter of concern,” said Naeem Baig, president of the Islamic Circle of North America, though he added that he has been impressed so far with the restraint shown by mainstream commentators.

“I see a very cautious and balanced approach from the media. It shows a lot of responsibility on their part, not jumping to conclusions,” he said.

“And the president and his statements were very balanced and mature,” Baig said. “Overall, politicians and the media have behaved responsibly.”

Yet if, in fact, Muslim extremists turn out to be associated in any way with the Boston bombing, then the fears in the Muslim community — and the efforts at damage control — will rise to a whole new level.

Already, Iowa congressman Steve King has drawn flack for suggesting that the possibility that a Saudi national was involved in the bombing would be reason enough to rethink immigration reform.

“If that’s the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture,” King, a Republican, told National Review Online. “If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background check the 11 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?”

On the flip side, members of King’s own party pushed back against that use of the Boston tragedy.

“We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told reporters on Tuesday. “We know very little about Boston other than that it was obviously an act of terror. We don’t know who carried it out or why they carried it out, and I would caution everyone to be very careful about linking the two.”


About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • Really sad. Hope we Muslims bear such insults with patience and win their hearts with the power of love:

    [Qur’an 3:187] “… you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up equals to God. But if you show fortitude and act righteously, that indeed is a matter of strong determination.”

    Muslimsforlife(dot)org – successfully collected 10,000 pints of blood to honor 3,000 dead of 9/11 (by saving 30,000 lives.
    Muslimsforpeace(dot)org – condemning terrorism, promoting Islamic value of loyalty to ones nation, peace, bus-ads and flyers and leaflets to promote the same.

  • I guess Pat Robertson has forgotten about all the times Christians have perpetrated acts of violence in the name of God. Christianity a religion of peace, ha! You cannot judge a religion based on their fringe elements. Should I judge all of Christinanity for the KKK, Dutch Reformed Church, Westboro Baptist Church, the Inquisition, colonization, etc. etc. Besides, we don’t even know who did it yet.

  • The KKK, Westboro Baptist, etc., are on the fringe of Christianity; if you reads the whole Koran you will find the violence is a very integral part of Islam (I have read the Koran from cover to cover in an edition which was given to me by CAIR). I am not sure Gloria means by the Dutch Reformed Church; when I was a kid in the Hudson Valley, that is what we called the Reformed Church in America, which is a very moderate denomination.

  • It is not only disappointing but also scary to see that some people are so willing to accuse others, and insult their sacred values, figures, scriptures, beloved peoples. I would think that Christians and Jews stone animals and raped women, if I didn’t know that there is a thing called ‘exegesis’. Why don’t we read others’ scriptures respectfully, and try to understand how do they read it? If I read your scriptures in the way your read that of Muslims, you would find this a wicked attack to your sacred. Don’t do that, my friend, don’t dehumanize people.

  • Glenn Beck (who I mostly respect) must have a very short memory. So no American would randomly target Americans? Remember Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and the OK Federal Bldg., the Murrah Center? I visited the site years ago and saw the rain- and sun-faded dolls, stuffed animals and cards to those “random” children they murdered and wrote off as (in McVeigh’s words) “collateral damage”. I am in no way defending Muslim terrorism but we need to stick to facts here or possibly allow the actual bomber(s) to escape.

  • Being that I have family member who have fought against Arabs and or have been been hurt by Arab terrorist attacks, I have no fond for them and wouldn’t be surprised if they were involved in this terrorist attacks. Having said that, without any knowledge or proof in who committed the bombing attacks in Boston, its irresponsible and stupid to blame Muslims or any other group. Lets find out who did it first and then we can worry about justice

  • Milton, it was a FEDERAL building. There was a distinct governmental connection, even if perfectly innocent children were killed. The Boston Marathon had no political connection…the bombs could’ve gone off when the governor was there and that didn’t even happen. Whoever did this must be either a mentally deranged person or a foreign terrorists…the McVeigh types would have no motive. Great risk, no reward.

  • Let us consider the following religious groups:

    Jews,Catholics,Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Quakers,Lutherans,Presbyterians,Baptists, Zoroastrians, Ba’Hais, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Congregationalist, Unitarian, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagan, atheist, Samaritan, animist, and New Age.

    Let’s suppose you’re on a quiz show called “Let’s Name A Religious Terrorist.” You have all these religious persuasions to pick from in deciding who it was who set off the bombs at the Boston Marathon. If when the perpetrator is caught, and your choice has been found to be correct, you receive $1,000,000 tax free from the game show.

    Which religion would you pick?

    I think that just cured everyone’s political correctness.

  • Why can’t all of you see through the smokescreen. The Muslim community comes out in the press fearing a backlash even though there hasn’t been any backlash because they want to present themselves as victims. its the victim mentality that is becoming persistent in our society. And we Americans in fear of being unfair and judgemental wind up not looking at the big picture as long as they keep themselves as the victims and us as the bullies we wont bother to investigate past the end of our nose. People are right it isnt just one group, but a majority of the terrorist problems come from one group and I think that deserves further investigation. But lets wait to place blame until we know the truth as I imagine most Americans are doing. And stop with the portraying yourself as victims when nothings happened yet.

  • Jews, as distinguished from Zionists ?
    Christians from where, apartheid South Africa ?
    Catholics from Europe going to the New World ?
    The Christian Knights of the KKK ?
    The Church of England in Ireland ?
    The Catholic church during WW2 ?
    The Belgium church in the Congo ?
    The Christians in the American South for over 300 years of slavery ?
    The Pope’s blessing Italian soldiers in Libya ?

  • Allan, you are a big liar. You never read quran. If you read quran you should have read this verse 5: ” ..he who kills a human being, it is as if he has killed the entire human race. And who so saves a human life it is as if he has saved the entire humankind.
    Here is the bible :Deuteronomy 13:13-19
    Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

    Kill Nonbelievers :2 Chronicles 15:12-13
    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

  • J, where you been, every other week some one attacks muslim’s business, or worship places or people. Go read on CAIR site how many attacks are going on day to day basis right here in USA.

  • Coming from across the Atlantic we remember how the Citizens of Boston would pass round the hat so those “freedom-fighting” IRA men could set off Bombs in pubs in England and Northern Ireland.

    I have no idea who committed the atrocity, and I don’t believe any cause justifies it, but it seems people quickly forget that there are many people who might have reasons to target the city and it’s population – not just those who are muslim.

  • Could you provide a link? I was at the site and found nothing on attacks against muslims in the US.

  • Speaking of African slavery, Muslims were known slave masters of Africans. The original slave masters, I might add.

  • Screw moral and cultural equivalence. I don’t care about what happened hundred of years ago, or even 100 years ago. What’s happening now?

  • The Boston Marathon had a distinct political connection, regardless of the presence of political officials. It takes place on Patriot’s Day; far-right extremists have stolen the “patriot” and “Tea Party” themes for themselves. Moreover, this year it was Tax Day and we all know how they feel about taxes.
    In any event, Glenn Beck is objectively wrong. There have been several far-right terror attacks and plots on non-government targets, like the 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting and the 2011 plot to bomb the MLK Day parade in Spokane WA.

  • Thank you Allen for teaching me about Islam! Are you a professor or scholar of the Qur’an? After all these years, the Marines taught me about controlled violence and Islam taught me about patience and peace. I leave this for you brother;
    Chapter 11 verse 34- “Even if I wish to advise you aright my counsel will not profit you if God intend that you go astray, for He is your Lord and to Him you will return.”

  • Well, let’s see
    Child sex abuse in the Catholic Church – here and now,
    700,00 deaths in Iraq – here and now,
    4500 killed by US drone strikes- here and now,
    400,000 American deaths from US cigarettes- here and now
    How many from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes , from our food – here and now
    Don’t care – apathy ??
    Don’t want to know – ignorance by choice ??
    Prime example of a true red blooded American ??

  • Absolutely not. Innocents never do. According to MLK , our leadership mentality is led by the profit. motive.
    Ever read Eisenhower’s farewell address – beware of the military industrial congressional complex – there is great profit in bloodshed, death and destruction hiding behind the flag – ask Neal Blue.

  • Naw, that is the European lie. Check out King Leopold – he said the same thing !
    Did Arabs have cotton plantations ?

    And even if so, did their wrong make the American/ European slave trade right ?
    Did Arabs annihilate native Americans ?
    Steal Hawaii?
    Steal Diego Garcia ?
    Invade Cuba, Haiti, Panama, Grenada, Nicaragua, Guatemala and establish the “kill school” at Ft. Banning GA ?
    Arabs did all that ?

  • I am an America Muslim. My father immigrated here and my mother is a southern native. It’s frustrating when people judge you or label you into a group when they do not even know who you are as an individual. I love my country America, I grew up with the values many Americans have. I do not condone terrorism because it is a coward and a criminal who is able to take the life of a person and they must surely be as evil as the devil who would try to kill thousands. What I would personally say to these terrorist is that you have misunderstood the Quran and you have lost the love of God because you wish to hurt that which he created. Remember this as you suffer for your crimes it was you who killed and hurt the innocent, not Islam and on the day of judgement the gates of heaven shall be closed to you for you have committed a grave sin. You cast aside Islam when you followed the temptation of the devil and disobeyed God to love that which he created. To the people of Boston the REAL Muslims stand behind you and believe you deserve justice for all that was stolen from you. You represent what this country was founded for and it was your city that fought for it first so long ago. You carry that torch as you stay strong representing that we will always be a free nation in a world full of evil.

  • KKK is not driven by religiousity.
    Christianity used to be as bad as muslims that’s why they changed their old testament to new testament by bring more sanity, fairness into it. But that was not clean enough. So they, came up with seperation of church and state.
    Islam has not gone through these reformation yet.

    You must delete some of the content from Quran.

  • When will CAIR be mobilising to prevent the next muslim terror attacks?

    If Muslims cease committing acts of terror on U.S. soil, then CAIR needn’t worry about any sort of backlash.

    When will CAIR come out with teaching material aimed at Muslims so that they cease misunderstanding their own religion?

    When will CAIR finally put the horse before the cart?

  • To Mo: That verse you quote applies to Muslims only. apparently you have not read the Koran.

  • Bukhari:V4B52N44 “A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad in reward.’ He replied, ‘I do not find such a deed.'”

  • You are correct America only accounts for 5% of slaves in that time period. Would you like to guess where the other 95% were?

  • beware of the military industrial congressional complex

    You can loose the word “congressional”. Eisenhower never said that. Do all Muslims lie?

  • Who are the devils influencing men to kill innocent humans?
    Whom are the true devils influencing their followers to fight against the creation of God/Allah/Adonai, humanity?
    Who influences their followers to submit their being and turn in their sons and daughters to destroy themselves and their enemy (without taking into account to have mercy on a child or woman as found in a good heart)?
    What evil is confusing with fear, lies or conspiracies, teaching hate, consolidating power, enforcing to obey indoctrination and illogical laws and not question them, and much worse to not feel for anyone differing from their beliefs/religion/politics/culture, and now turning you into the routine zombie you so much fear?
    What evil is teaching you deceit and assimilation in order to kill your enemy, keeping your mind full of judgement, encouraging to violence as a justification for your victimhood and bruised ego?
    Evil knows that a heart full of judgement will not allow one to evolve into Love, and that killing or just judging the perpetrator does not kill evil, but does destroy humanity. Humanity is Allah’s/Adonai’s/God’s gift to the world. Open your heart and conscience to Allah/God/Adonai as best serves all of humanity, the creator’s gift, and not have your mind deceived by a mono religious/political culture that keeps deception in your mind, in fear, and keeps you fighting just the way the devil likes it. True love for humanity will set you free, not your father, not your mother, not your brother/sister, not your friend, not your teacher, not your leader, not your government, not your religion or science. And in such understanding and love for humanity you will find your path to Allah/God/Adonai and be at peace with yourself/nature/universe, and forgo the misleading evil judgmental path of your teacher/actor/cleric/leader/father who has taken it upon him/her to speak like a prophet and guiding you to destroy humanity. Have the courage to love everyone and be brave to uphold freedoms for all and continue to improve peacefully civil rights equally for all of humanity, and feel blessed to live in the United States of America, a nation that has struggled to continued to uphold democracy and improve freedom for all.

  • I’m sorry but you immigrate to MY country and you as a whole have done Nothing to stop the spread of Radical Islam and you make me out to be the bad guy? No I do not want to Coexist with a religion that wants to conquer me! What Am I stupid! I’m 53 years of age Our nation opened it’s doors to Muslims all around the world and what have done? [expletive deleted] on us sorry until Muslims weed out Your terrorists I will not give your any support whats so ever!

  • You Are Clueless,

    You must always be mindful of where you get your knowledge from, books are also written as being anti…whatever and as rebutals. Was it Muslims slave masters in Africa or the Africans themselves who helped the Christian Slave Masters capture the Africans?????

  • Muslims cannot delete any content nor portion from The Quran, that’s the problem with The Bible.

  • To cold joint, Mo is correct; As a Muslim in America, that specific verse is speaking about when Cain killed his own brother Able out of Jelousy and Envy way before the time of the Prophet Muhammad(saw). So, this specific verse is for the whole of Humanity not just the Muslims.
    In concluding–Non Muslims, please do not quote “Our Holy Book” if you have no understanding.