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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Should Muslims Monitor Muslims?

Suhaib Webb, (left), the imam for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center at Here & Now studios at WBUR in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Suhaib Webb, (left), the imam for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center at Here & Now studios at WBUR in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Investigators are still trying to figure out what radicalized Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Since the bombings, members of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts have spoken of two angry outbursts. Tsarnaev objected when one speaker compared Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Prophet Mohammed, and when another speaker urged Muslims to celebrate secular American holidays, like Thanksgiving and July 4th.

In both cases, mosque members told him to leave. But should they also have told police? Muslim leaders in Boston have monthly meetings with the FBI, through a program called “Bridges.”

Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, a sister mosque to the mosque Tamerlan visited in Cambridge, says he would have sat down and talked with Tamerlan if he attended his mosque, to try to determine if his conservative religious views would lead to violence, and only then would have called police.

Journalist Michael Hirsh says the failure in finding out about the Tsarnaevs before the bombings may not be with the mosques, as much as with the Obama administration, which launched a program a few years back to work with mosques. But Imam Webb says a program in Britain that served as inspiration for the Obama administration has failed because it excludes the most radical imams.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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