DENVER – Officials with Colorado’s largest mosque Tuesday repudiated a Muslim leader’s offer to bury suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Denver-area cemetery, saying it’s the obligation of the man’s family or Muslims in Boston to decide where he is buried, not an organization a thousand miles away.
Colorado Muslim Society Chairman Khaled Hamideh said Tuesday Sheikh Abu Omar Almubarac approached the mosque’s governing council during the weekend with a proposal to bury Tsarnaev in one of two Denver-area Muslim cemeteries. While Denver Muslims and Almubarac condemned the bombings, Almubarac said he proposed the local burial out of adherence to Muslim teachings and offered a traditional Muslim burial for Tsarnaev – no headstone or casket.
Hamideh said the council declined to take up the matter because the Muslim obligation falls on those closest to the body.
“It’s not up to me that I have to fly 1,000 miles away and find a way to bury (Tsarnaev),” Hamideh said. “There’s a family or it’s the obligation of the Muslims in the area. If none, then it’s the next city, the next state.”
Almubarac founded the organization that built the east Denver mosque, but he holds no official position within the mosque.
Tsarnaev’s uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., has been unable to bury his nephew in Massachusetts because of protests.
Worcester, Mass., funeral home director Peter Stefan said more than 100 people in the U.S. and Canada have offered burial plots for Tsarnaev. But officials in the cities and towns where the graves are have said “no.” The city manager in Cambridge, Mass., where Tsarnaev lived, has urged his family not to ask to have him buried there because the attention would make it difficult for residents trying to get back to their lives.
Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that she wants to bury Tamerlan in her native Dagestan, but Russia is not allowing her to bring back the body.
Organizations that own burial rights decide who is buried at the Olinger Hampden Mortuary and Cemetery in Denver, one of two local cemeteries where Muslims are interred, said Jessica McDunn, a spokeswoman with Service Corp. International, which owns the cemetery.
Hamideh said the mosque has taken no steps to bury Tsarnaev at either local cemetery.
“It’s a tragedy that happened. We have to move on,” Hamideh said. “Unfortunately, it was a Muslim, and we condemn that. This is not our religion.”