Will Boston Marathon Bombing Rev Up Islamophobic Domestic Terrorists?

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Will Boston Marathon Bombing Rev Up Islamophobic Domestic Terrorists?

The Tsarnaev brothers—Tamerlan and Dzhokhar—of Cambridge, MA are, at present, the sole alleged perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar are of Chechen descent and are also Muslim.

“Please, God don't let it be a Muslim.” This was Arsalan Iftikhar’s immediate thought upon hearing of the Boston Marathon bombing.

In fact, since 9/11, Iftikhar has had that thought about every bombing and mass shooting in every corner of the world, but particularly in his home country, the U.S. The April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting; the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting; the 2012 Colorado movie theater massacre; the December 2012 Newton school shooting all had him hoping the perpetrator wasn’t Muslim. Iftikhar, senior editor with Islamic Monthly, and popular blogger of "The Muslim Guy," worried (like so many peace loving and law-abiding Muslims did) that an onslaught of Islamophobic vitriol and violence would follow violence committed by a Muslim.

His fear is, sadly, rooted in fact. Just hours after news spread globally about the Boston tragedy, anti-Muslim vigilantes surfaced. NPR reported that just outside of Boston a woman wearing a hijab (traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women) was attacked while strolling with her baby. In New York, a Bangladeshi man was accosted resulting in having his shoulder dislocated by someone yelled Islamophobic epithets.

Ruslan Tsarni, the Tsarnaev brothers’ uncle, expressed thoughts about collective guilt when he told news reporters that his nephews brought shame upon all Chechens.

“They’ve never been in Chechnya. This has nothing to do with Chechnya. Chechens are different. Chechens are peaceful people.... He put a shame on our family,” Tsarni told the reporters. “He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”

But the weight of the brothers’ action bares not only a collective guilt placed on Chechens as Tsarni expressed, but their actions also places a collective shame and backlash on Muslims as Iftikhar worries.

"The term terrorism in post-9/11 America has sort of been co-opted to really only apply when it's brown, Muslim men.... Already today, I have received several pieces of hate mail in my email inbox and I think many brown people in America are feeling very nervous right now," Iftikhar told NPR.

Salon magazine writer David Sirota's  expressed similar concerns. In his article "Let’s