Boston mosque cancels Friday prayer, condemns terrorism

U.S. Muslim leaders fear a backlash after the Boston bombing suspects were identified as Muslim.

The largest Islamic worship center in New England, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, announced on its website Friday that it was closed until further notice after a reportin The Boston Globe said one of the Boston Marathon bombers had worshiped at an affiliated Cambridge mosque.

The FBI identified Muslim brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the bombing suspects. After they killed an MIT campus police officer around midnight Thursday, Tamerlan died in a blazing shootout with police and Dzhokhar eluded capture, triggering a massive manhunt that paralyzed the Boston area Friday.

The Cambridge mosque’s web site specifies: “We practice and promote a comprehensive and balanced view of Islam. We strive to embody the ‘middle path’ to which the Qur’an calls – a path of moderation that is free of extremism. We believe that the core teachings of Islam are universal and timeless, providing guidance and instruction for all times and all peoples.”

The mosque is affiliated with the The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in nearby Roxbury but neither could be reached for comment. The Cultural Center religious leader, Imam Suhaib Webb, a native of Oklahoma, posted on his Facebook page, “We are all Bostonians -we mourn with the city.”

The website for the center in Roxbury explained: “After the terrible and sad events of last night, the criminal of the bombings on the loose, and the strong recommendations of our Governor, the ISBCC will be closed until further notice.”

The site also said the imam recommended that all pray at home rather than attend local mosques. “Please be safe and pray for our city and state,” the Web page concluded.

Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy released a statement from the national group saying that any hatred or violence expressed toward Muslims because the brothers were reportedly Muslim would be “against everything we stand for as Americans.”

Gaddy said, “Regardless of the religious background or the ethnic origin of the suspects, it says no more about the broader communities from which they come than Timothy McVeigh’s actions said about Christians when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on this very day 18 years ago.”

FBI, Muslims report progress over training materials

FBI officials say they are willing to consider a proposal from a coalition of Muslim and interfaith groups to establish a committee of experts to review materials used in FBI anti-terrorism training.

The coalition raised the idea during a Feb 8 meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller, who met with the groups to discuss pamphlets, videos and other anti-terrorism training materials that critics say are either Islamophobic or factually incorrect.

“We’re open to the idea, but they need to submit a proposal first,” said Christopher Allen, an FBI spokesman who was in the meeting.
Groups at the meeting included the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Interfaith Alliance, and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign.

Mueller told representatives of the groups that FBI experts had reviewed almost all of the agency’s training materials, including 160,000 pages of documents. More than 700 documents and 300 presentations were subsequently pulled from the agency’s training materials.
Materials that were pulled contained incorrect or imprecise information, were stereotypical, or “in poor taste,” the FBI said.