A week after the cruel attack on the Boston Marathon, our nation is still trying to answer that piece of the — who, what, and why — puzzle. Despite our lack of information as to the “why,” we do know some facts as to “what” happened. We know that when the suspects placed their bombs amongst the crowd of joyous spectators, they did not check for the race or religion of their potential victims. Instead, they coldly sought a body count.
CAIR-PA In the News
On Fox News, “liberal” commentator Bob Beckel suggested Muslim students should now be barred from coming to the United States. Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade seems to believe the U.S. should implant “listening devices” in mosques around the country and Bill O’Reilly shouted down the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, who noted the two brothers were not representative of all of Islam. With that in mind, Philadelphia Weekly caught up with Rugiatu Conteh, Outreach and Communications Director at Council on American-Islamic Relations Philadelphia, for her take on the matter.
“I think that a lot of stereotypes are that Muslims are violent or terrorists or criminals,” said Rugiatu Conteh, the communications and outreach director for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. When a suspect in a crime or act of terrorism is Muslim, she said, “I think for a lot of people, it kind confirms those stereotypes.”
Rugiatu Conteh, outreach director for the Philadelphia office of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Friday her office had not received any calls from community members or mosques reporting harassment since the Tsarnaevs’ faith was made public. “But we generally don’t get that in our area,” she said. “People are generally tolerant in Philadelphia.”
Even before the full background of bombing suspects Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his now deceased 26-year-old brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev have been fully reported, rumors have been swirling about their connection to Islam. A notion that is concerning to Rugiatu Conteh of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “We do tell people to be extra vigilant and to ensure that they have their eyes out and are aware of the situation,” she said. “Thankfully, we haven’t heard of any sort of incidents coming in the Muslim community in the Pennsylvania area.”
The local chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations or CAIR-Philadelphia held its 7th Annual Banquet, on March 16 at the beautiful Springfield County Club. A pre-banquet reception provided the guests with an atmosphere for networking, socializing, and visiting extraordinary exhibits. A multicultural atmosphere of over 600 people filled the elegant ballroom. The apparent diversity was reminiscent of a gathering of the United Nations. A “salad bowl” with many flavors mixed but distinctly noticed, the seatings were strategically arranged to encourage different cultures to mingle.
Amara S. Chaudhry, civil rights director for the Pennsylvania Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she was concerned the attacks would be used “for political gain” at the expense of Muslims.
“People keep asking me to respond in my capacity as an American Muslim,” said Amara Chaudhry, civil rights director for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “I’m simply responding as a human being who is mourning a tragic and unnecessary loss of life.”