Local Muslim leader reacts to Boston violence

Muslim Reaction

(KYTX) - The Tsarnaev brothers are among the millions of Muslims living in the United States. Since the deadly bombings and shootouts, the Muslim community in Boston has loudly expressed its shame in these two men.

Anwar Kahlifa, President of the East Texas Islamic Society, was also very quick to say that what the Tsarnaev brothers are accused of doing is an awful, terrible crime.

He also says it's a misconception that Islam promotes violence or terrorism.

He says Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev do not represent all Muslims, and we shouldn't judge the many for the few.

"I don't even know how they justify it in their head that they can do something like this in the name of God Almighty." says Kahlifa. "You know, God works through us to help our fellow man, not to hurt our fellow man."

Kahlifa says Islam is a peaceful religion.

"This is in the Quran. He who kills an innocent life is as though he has killed mankind. And, he who saves an innocent life is as though they have saved mankind."

The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of working together to kill three people and wound more than 200 others, in the Boston marathon bombings. They're also accused of shooting and killing an MIT officer.

"These kids are either sick, distorted or whatever, and use their religion as an excuse to do something stupid."

Kahlifa says people shouldn't blame all Muslims for what these two allegedly did.

"That's what people expect me, as a Muslim leader in the community, to apologize for every Muslim. I can't apologize for somebody else's actions because I had no control over their actions."  

Kahlifa says while he does condemn the violence, he also believes there's a double-standard for crimes against Muslims.

"When a Muslim does something wrong, it's because of their religion, ok, but when anybody else does something wrong, it's because they were mentally ill, they were upset..."

"So, whose responsibility is it then, to make sure that these children don't grow up to be like the Tsarnaev brothers?"

"You know, you're never 100%, but we really are diligent here in Tyler to make sure that we listen, we understand our kids, we know who they're hanging out with, we talk about the stuff at the mosque to make sure that our kids are not radicalized." says Kahlifa.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early Friday, and according to the rules of Islam, he should have been buried by now. But, his severely wounded body is still being held to determine a cause of death.

The parents of the suspects held an emotional press conference Thursday. Their father plans to travel to Boston to see Dzhokhar and take Tamerlan's body back to Russia for burial.

Anwar Kahlifa says he does believe Tamerlan deserves a proper burial. He says we are not the judge, God is the judge. And, while Tamerlan allegedly did something completely against Islam, Kahlifa's opinion is that everybody deserves a proper burial.

Usually, Muslims are buried the same day as their death. But, in addition to the delays required by an autopsy and the massive investigation into the bombings, several Muslim leaders in the Boston area have said they would not perform funeral rites for a man accused of committing so much violence.


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