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Muslims see little backlash after Boston bombing

By Rachel Zoll

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 26 2013 9:53 p.m. MDT

The Boston explosions also inadvertently underscored a point Muslims have been making for years: More are monitoring their own communities for signs of extremism.

Leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston, a mosque in Cambridge that is affiliated with Webb's mosque in Roxbury, said Tamerlan Tsarnaev occasionally attended Friday prayers, but had protested the community's moderate approach. Family members said Tamerlan was steered toward a radical strain of Islam by a friend they didn't know, began opposing the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and turned to websites and literature claiming the CIA was behind the Sept. 11 attacks and Jews controlled the world.

According to leaders of the Cambridge mosque, Tamerlan once stood up during a sermon and objected when a preacher told worshippers it would be appropriate to celebrate national holidays such as Thanksgiving or Independence Day because it went against Islam. A couple of months later, Tamerlan objected when a preacher praised the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He called the speaker a hypocrite and accused of him contaminating people's minds. In response, worshippers shouted at him and told him to leave the service.

The mosque offered these accounts in a detailed written statement released after Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokhar was apprehended.

"Trust me — no group of people wants to stamp out radicalism more than Muslims, who have seen it soil their faith and define its image," said Khurram Dara, 24, author of "The Crescent Directive," a well-known e-book urging U.S. Muslims to more fully integrate into American society. "They're vigilant of radicalism in their communities."

The message was driven home by a case this week in Canada. Investigators there said they thwarted a plan by two men, guided by al-Qaida in Iran, to derail a train between New York City and Montreal because a local Muslim leader alerted them to the threat. The leader, Muhammad Robert Heft, said the father of one of the two suspects had come forward with concerns about his son's intolerant religious views. A 2011 study of American Muslim terrorism by the Triangle Center for Terrorism and Homeland Security found U.S. Muslims were the largest single source of tips to law enforcement that year for terrorist plots.

Sheila Musaji of St. Louis, editor of TheAmericanMuslim.org, which she founded as a community magazine in 1989, said more Muslims are online and actively countering extremist preachers. "There are these crazy groups out there. It's hard to know when they cross some sort of line into something else that involves violence," Musaji said.

"They need to be countered," she said, "but also the lslamophobes need to be countered."

Because along with progress in recent years, Muslims can point to better organized efforts to condemn their religion.

For example, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., opposition to a mosque has become an ideological and religious conflict that has dragged on for more than three years and spilled over into local public schools. Since 2010, bills have been proposed in more than 30 state legislatures that would restrict consideration of religious law or foreign law in local courts. The bills are similar or identical to a model drafted by activists who contend Muslims, by stealth, want to replace the American legal system with Islamic law, or shariah.

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