EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 15, 2013

Tsarnaev should have been buried at sea


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — One by one, cemeteries in Massachusetts refused to accept the body of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Even his adopted hometown of Cambridge, which proudly proclaims itself a sanctuary city for immigrants, legal and otherwise, wanted nothing to do with his remains. It refused to issue a burial permit for interment in any city graveyard.

“The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the city of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and widespread media presence at such an interment,” Cambridge City Manager Bob Healy said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “The families of loved ones interred in the Cambridge Cemetery also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace.”

Who could blame them, really?

It’s customary to grant even enemies the right to burial in wartime, and it would seem the human thing to do. But the wounds of the terror attack carried out on Marathon Monday were still too fresh for Massachusetts residents to live with the thought of Tsarnaev buried in Bay State soil.

So the dilemma over what to do with the body was “solved” by shipping it about 500 miles down Interstate 95 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We think there was a better solution. We would have preferred to see his body consigned to a place where it would never be found: the sea.

The body had been lying in a Worcester funeral home for days, attracting a large crowd of protesters and causing undeserved headaches and costs for the city.

It fell to a Richmond, Va., woman to advance what she thought was a great idea but which has proven to be a very bad one. Tsarnaev’s body was quietly slipped out of Worcester and buried last week in a small Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Va., about 50 miles north of Richmond.

“The body’s buried,” said Rusian Tsarni, the uncle of Tsarnaev and the only person willing to take responsibility for the body. “That’s it.”

Unfortunately, that’s not it. Civic leaders in Caroline County, Va., where Doswell is located, are outraged over the move. They didn’t want the body there, and were never even asked if they wanted it.

“We feel the same way most of America feels,” said Floyd Thomas, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “We’re very angry over the bombings.”

The Washington Post reported that Virginia Muslim leaders are unhappy with the decision as well.

“The whole Muslim community here is furious. Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly behind our backs,” Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia told the Post.

What a needless controversy.

Someone in authority — perhaps in our state government — should have taken a cue from the United States government, which knew exactly what to do with the body of Osama bin Laden: Bury it at sea. Far out at sea.

The sea, of course, is a no man’s land, a place where there will never be a memorial to the deceased. The United States quickly buried bin Laden’s body somewhere in the deep blue specifically to avoid the kind of controversies that developed over Tsarnaev’s resting place — and to prevent the al-Qaida terror leader’s followers from turning his grave into some sort of holy site.

Besides all the security and image problems Virginia has been saddled with, it now has to wonder whether fanatics will try to turn Tsarnaev’s grave into the shrine of a “martyr.”

We’ve just created that shrine.