The Course of Reason

Motivations Behind the Boston Bombings

April 26, 2013

The image below came across my Facebook newsfeed this morning.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev image share on Facebook.

The quote is true. It didn't come from Tamerlan but someone speaking about him, more on that below. I want to start with the sharing of the picture itself, as I think it sums up the problem with sharing these photos on a social media site. There's no link provided with the picture to give us a source confirming if this was quote, a paraphrasing, or anything that actually represents Tamerlan's views. Comments on thread where the photo was originally posted are all about how terrible Islam is, some praise for Sam Harris, and one comment making a comment about Tamerlan's mental condition, but no one is bothering to ask for a source. Where's the scepticism? Where's the person who should be asking, "is this true?" True or false, someone should always be asking that question on these photos. Or, demanding a source if none is provided.

I shared the picture and was quickly linked to an article from the New York Times:

Elmirza Khozhugov, 26, the ex-husband of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's younger sister, Ailina, said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been enamored of conspiracy theories, and that he was also concerned by the wars in the Middle East.

"He was looking for connections between the wars in the Middle East and oppression of Muslim population around the globe," Mr. Khozhugov said in an e-mail. "It was very hard to argue with him on themes somehow connected to religion. On the other hand, he did not hate Christians. He respected their faith. Never said anything bad about other religions. But he was angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion."

My impression of this is that yes, bombing a public area after expressing frustration that the world views your religion as violent isn't the best way to win support. It's downright hypocritical. However, Islam wasn't the only motivator for these actions. Interviews with the 2nd suspect, Tamerlan's younger brother, indicates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as motivators for the bombing. While Tamerlan's views on Islam and actions do contradict each other, we can't start pointing figures at Islam, and Islam alone. In this case, the motivations appear to be a mix of U.S. action in the Muslim world with radical views being an influence on Tamerlan's actions.


About the Author: Chris Burke

Chris Burke's photo
Chris Burke holds a Bachelors in Environmental Studies: Honours Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. Next he will be working towards a Masters of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. He's an active member of the Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo student group. In his spare time he enjoys reading and playing music.




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