WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — With news breaking Monday that the alleged Boston bombers could have been motivated by religious reasons, including radical Islam, local Muslims immediately began hoping they would not be the victims of senseless backlash.
Albrecht Ammon lived downstairs from the Tsarnaev brothers. Three months ago, he says he got into a peaceful, but very opinionated argument with the older brother, Tamerlan.
“I remember he mentioned, for example, that the Bible was a cheap copy of the Quran and that in Afghanistan most casualties are innocent bystanders killed by American soldiers. Those were his strongest arguments I’d say,” Ammon said.
Officials say it appears religion could have fueled the brothers’ violent attack. A Cambridge Mosque said Monday that although Tamerlan was not one of their members, he did occasionally attend services. The Associated Press reported twice this past year Tamerlan had outbursts in the mosque and was asked to settle down. It’s news that local Muslims were dreading.
“These guys have their own sick mind,” Dr. Mohammad Saleem Bajwa of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts said “Where do they get to their teachings and get radicalized, we really don’t know.”
Dr. Bajwa says their mosque was vandalized years ago, and hopes it won’t happen again. The facility is constantly under the watch of surveillance cameras and somebody is inside around the clock. The police also keep a close watch on it, all so members can pray for peace, in peace.
“We are equal citizens over here, we are against these kinds of activities, and we will do anything possible to prevent this thing from happening, like anybody else,” Dr. Bajwa said.
Dr. Bajwa also said that if anyone acted suspiciously or showed signs of violent interests, the society would contact authorities. However, he said that has never happened and that they are a peaceful group that just wants respect.
The Islamic Society of Western Mass is hosting an Interfaith Prayer Service this Thursday, April 25th. It is at 6pm and will include prayers for peace, a fundraiser for the Boston victims, and remembrance. All are welcome. It starts at 6pm and a dinner will be served following the service.