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Boston bombing: US Muslims react with fear, frustration, and new resolve

While Muslim Americans have condemned the Boston bombing, there's also been frustration with the perceived need to explain and apologize for the suspects. Some are emphasizing increased engagement by mosques.

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Immediately after the attack, the Muslim community’s reaction was swift, evidence of a well-oiled machine spinning into action. Muslim organizations issued statements condemning the bombing and terrorism and organizing vigils, blood drives, and funds for the victims.

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Following the all-night manhunt for the suspects late Thursday and early Friday, mosques across the country were on high security for Friday prayer services. Boston’s main mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, took the unprecedented step of closing its doors Friday and urging congregants to remain home, partially because of the lockdown taking place in the area. (Friday congregational prayers are mandatory for Muslim men.)

Still, reports of reprisals spread, with two of the sources reached for this story reporting vandalism and break-ins at their local mosques. Also, as was widely reported in the Muslim press, a Bangladeshi man was beaten up outside a Bronx Applebee’s restaurant. And in Malden, Mass., a man approached a Muslim woman heading with her daughter in a stroller to a play date, punched her in the shoulder, and shouted, “F--- you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F--- you!”

For many Muslims, this is an ugly, if expected, side effect of the attack, and one that brings increasing frustration. 

“We are the ones standing up and condemning these horrific acts, ostracizing these cowardly men, and disclaiming them as part of our flock,” Mr. Ba-Yunus writes. “But we bear the brunt of the public's outrage, and it's simply not fair.”

The attack itself was “a stab in chest,” and now “I feel as though I’m stabbed in the back to be looked at in that way, to be under suspicion,” says Nadine Abu-Jubara, the Orlando, Fla.-based executive director of Nadoona, an Islamically oriented health and fitness organization. She adds, “We’re in this, too, we’re grieving, too. We’re just as upset with [whomever] did it."

Who are American Muslims?

Painting a portrait of the American Muslim community, an incredibly diverse lot, is difficult, with population estimates ranging from 2.75 million to 6 million. According to the Pew Research Center, some 63 percent of US Muslims were born outside the country, of which 70 percent are now naturalized US citizens. Some 69 percent of US Muslims claim that religion is an important part of their lives, according to Pew, while one-fifth say they seldom or never attend worship services.

Pew has also found that of Muslims surveyed, 60 percent feared the rise of Islamic extremism in America, and 21 percent believed there is support for extremism among Muslims in the United States.

In the wake of the Boston bombing, US Muslims have taken to the airwaves, the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse, reiterating their faith’s teachings. 

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
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