On November 12th, Americans for Peace and Tolerance Research Director Ilya Feoktistov attended the bail hearing for Tarek Mehanna, the Sudbury man accused, among other charges, of plotting to massacre shoppers at an area mall in an act of Islamic terrorism. At the courthouse, he joined a crowd of about 30 Mehanna supporters who had organized a rally via the internet.
Unequivocal support for Mehanna in spite of the serious crimes he is accused of committing is scarce within the Boston Muslim community. Yet Mehanna’s supporters have largely gotten away with representing themselves as the true voice of Boston’s Muslims. The media has helped to enable this narrative, with most coverage of the hearing generically labeling Mehanna’s supporters as “Boston Muslims.”
However, the major Boston media sources – the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the NECN had interviewed Feoktistov for a counterpoint to Mehanna’s supporters.
Quoted in the Globe, Feoktistov said:
“Boston has one of the oldest, moderate, educated Muslim communities in America, but unfortunately in recent years there’s been an influx in radical ideology that’s having a terrible effect on Boston Muslims…We’re very concerned about what they are teaching kids at Islamic centers that are radical around here.’’
Quoted in the Herald, Feoktistov said:
“I don’t understand how there is such blanket support for a person who was accused by the government of committing such horrible crimes.”
And quoted on the NECN evening news, Feoktistov said:
“I think the people gathered here don’t represent most of Boston’s Muslims who are very concerned about the allegations against Tarek Mehanna.”