Bomber burial: Tsarnaev funeral planned after widow releases body

The uncle of the two men authorities say were behind the Boston Marathon bombing contacted a mosque to arrange a funeral for the older suspect killed shortly after the incident, the Islamic Society of Boston said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.
Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to his side of the family.
In addition to declining to claim the body herself, which is her right as his spouse, Russell has taken other steps to distance herself from Tsarnaev since taking refuge at her family’s home on April 19, hours after her husband was killed. Her family released a statement shortly after she was escorted home by federal agents that day saying they “never really knew” Tsarnaev. Russell has also reverted to using her maiden name instead of the name listed on her marriage certificate, Tsarnaeva.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “We’ll do it. We will do it. A family is a family.”
Tsarnaev has been dead for nearly two weeks, with his body unclaimed at the medical examiner’s office. Sharia, or Islamic law, requires the dead to be buried as soon after death as possible after a funeral ritual that includes bathing and shrouding of the body, followed by prayers. Cremation is prohibited.
Security officials suspected ties between Tsarnaev and the Canadian – an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov – according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which is known for its independence and investigative reporting and cited an unnamed official with the Anti-Extremism Center, which tracks militants. The newspaper said the men had social networking ties that brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.

Hatem Bazian: Anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses put Muslims at risk

Ads running on San Francisco municipal buses, paid for by noted anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative, have sparked controversy about hate speech and fears they could stoke more violence against the American Muslim community. The ads come at a time when American Muslims have suffered at least nine attacks across the nation over a two-week period in August.

The advertisements, cribbed from an Ayn Rand quote, state: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the American Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate group.

The outcry has focused on discrimination against adherents of Islam, and rightly so. On Aug. 10, pigs’ feet were strewed on the lawn of a mosque in Ontario, while Muslim worshipers in Hayward were pelted by oranges and lemons as they walked into prayer. In Illinois, an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school and shots were fired at a mosque. In both cases, worshipers were inside attending to Ramadan prayers. A mosque in Joplin, Mo., was torched and burned to the ground, and other mosques in Oklahoma and Rhode Island reported incidents of vandalism. In Panama City, Fla., a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Muslim family’s home.

Geller’s ads demonize Muslims at a time when they are under attack.

As an educator, I fully support free speech and the open exchange of ideas.

But hate speech like the bus ads has a destructive, cumulative impact on society. The term “savages” has been used to demonize people of color and marginalize them throughout this country’s history.

The San Francisco Transportation Authority has posted ads condemning Geller’s language next to her ad, and has set up a commission to review its advertising policies.

Rhode Island Muslims ask for FBI, police security help after mosque vandalism

Members of Rhode Island’s Muslim community have asked to meet with police and the FBI to request heightened security at their places of worship after the sign for a mosque in North Smithfield was vandalized.

Farid Ansari, president of the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement and an imam at the Muslim American Dawah Center of Rhode Island in Providence, said Tuesday they are concerned because of the fatal attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday and a suspicious fire at a mosque in Missouri on Monday.

“Hopefully, it’s just a simple case of vandalism, but we can’t be sure. Of particular concern is what happened within the Sikh community,” Ansari said. “We can’t just not pay attention to these types of things. We don’t know if they are connected or not.”

The incident at the Masjid Al-Islam happened early Sunday morning. Surveillance video showed a person walk up to the mosque’s sign, struggle with it then knock down a large piece of it, put it into a car and drive away, said North Smithfield Police Capt. Tim Lafferty. The vandalism was first reported by The Providence Journal.

Episcopal minister defrocked after becoming a Muslim

Former Episcopal minister Ann Holmes Redding has been ordained in the Episcopal Church for nearly 30 years, but her ordainment came to an end when she was defrocked this week.

According to a report, Redding has been both a practicing Christian and Muslim for the past three years. “Had anyone told me in February 2006 that I would be a Muslim before April rolled around, I would have shaken my head in concern for the person’s mental health,” Redding recently told a crowd at a signing for a book she co-authored on religion.

Redding said that her conversion to Islam was sparked by an interfaith gathering she attended three years ago, citing an overwhelming conviction to surrender to God. Redding said that she did not feel that her new Muslim faith posed a contradiction to her staying a Christian and minister: “Both religions say there’s only one God,” Redding said, “and that God is the same God. It’s very clear we are talking about the same God! So I haven’t shifted my allegiance.”

The Episcopal church rejected Redding’s religious church, saying it is tantamount to abandonment of the church. The Diocese of Rhode Island, where Redding was ordained, told her to leave either her new Muslim faith or the ministry. A diocese statement said Bishop Geralyn Wolf found Redding to be “a woman of utmost integrity. However, the Bishop believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim.