Chicago Tribune: Muslims guard against backlash

The Council on American Islamic Relations again offered sympathy to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Friday, but added a plea for Americans not to generalize and conclude that Muslim teachings influenced the suspect in any way.

“Our focus is primarily on the victims,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter at a press conference Friday afternoon. “We don’t want to be drawn into defending ourselves.”

Citing acts of violence in Boston and New York, Rehab blamed Islamophobic forces for inciting hate crimes. He said that phenomenon poses a bigger threat than “innocently ignorant individuals.”

Pointing to the Jewish leader and pastor by his side at the news conference, he said Muslims have discovered a powerful source of support since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Friends of Muslims are emerging as a great force in America,” he said. “American people are fed up with the dumbing down of America.”