Many members of the local and national Muslim community are reacting with concern to the death of Usaama Rahim and arrest of David Wright this week, questioning law enforcement’s actions and asking for more information about what happened. Still, that is just a part of the reaction.
The other message coming out of the local Muslim community is strong and consistent: Boston Muslims believe in living in peace and cooperation, and they condemn the the illegal acts Usaama Rahim and his nephew David Wright allegedly planned.
“These individuals, to the best of my understanding, have not had deep or lasting connections with the mainstream Muslim community of Boston within recent history.”
That is the view of John Robbins of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations – a chapter that includes longstanding members of the local Muslim community, but was just formed as a group a month ago. It’s one of several new ways Boston Muslims, over the last year, have been seeking to better represent themselves amidst what many feel is increasing police and FBI scrutiny.
Shannon Erwin of the Muslims Justice League worries that scrutiny will escalate after the events of this week.

“This could be another source of tension and fear of law enforcement," said Erwin. "Fear, meaning that muslims and the black community and other folks who are targeted continue to feel that law enforcement is not here to necessarily support and protect them.”
Erwin and several other attorneys – many Harvard-trained – created the Justice League last year after the government started an outreach program to Muslim communities in Boston and two other cities. Several Muslim groups declined to participate because they felt like they were being singled out, even if it was in a friendly way. Erwin’s group wants to make sure Muslims who are approached have legal representation.

Erwin contues: “Folks are very concerned about appearing cooperative, making sure that folks know they have nothing to hide and care about community safety as much as any American, and as Muslims they do. But sometimes that can result in people doing things which undermine their own rights.”
The ACLU has been holding informational meetings in the Muslim community to educate people about their rights – and already had one scheduled for this Saturday. Deputy legal director Sarah Wunsch is the ACLU of Massachusetts Deputy Legal Director. She says people need to know they don’t have to answer questions from law enforcement. And, if they do want to answer,  they have a right to have a lawyer present.  Wunsch says it’s important for people to know that because she’s seen others who came forward to help, get charged themselves. Or they just get hassled: “They end up getting many visits from FBI agents acting very agressively toward them, and people I think end up wishing that they hadn’t come forward.”
After the events of this week, local Muslims are also worried about backlash from the larger community, fueled by news coverage.  Nadeem Mazen is a Cambridge city councilor who is Muslim, and was among the group invited to view the video of Rahim’s shooting. He says some media have attempted to draw larger conclusions as information about Rahim and Wright’s plans comes out in drips and drabs.
“And media needs to understand," Mazen said, " that that has a cost in livelihoods and in lives – when people face backlash sometimes violent backlash in the Greater Boston and New England communities. This has happened before and it has happened over the last several years, and we want to make sure media are entirely basing their communications on fact.”
And at this point, Mazen says, very few facts are available.