Statement from Martha Mullen:
(RICHMOND, Virginia, May 10, 2013) – Interfaith efforts across state lines brought a compassionate and humane end to the quandary of where to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the oldest of two brothers suspected in the April 18 Boston marathon bombing. Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police on April 19.
On May 7 Martha Mullen, a private citizen living in Richmond, Virginia, quietly coordinated efforts to resolve the problem of where to bury Tsarnaev's remains. Mullen initiated an email stream to local representatives of the United Methodist church where she is a member, as well as to representatives of local Muslin, Jewish, and Hindu communities. After receiving an offer of a donated burial plot from the administration of Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell, Virginia, Mullen then contacted the administrative secretary of the Worcester, MA chief of police. Mullen requested that Peter A. Stefan, the funeral director of Graham, Putnam & ¬Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, MA, be given the contact information for the administrators of Al-Barzakh Cemetery, which provides Muslim burial according to the tenets of Sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam. That evening Mullen also discussed with her local United Methodist pastor her moral and ethical reasons for spearheading this effort. "Jesus tells us "love your enemies" she said. "Not to hate them even after they are dead." Her pastor expressed support for Mullen's Christian convictions and encouraged her interfaith efforts.
Faith principles also motivated the Muslim administrators of Al-Barzakh Cemetery, who coordinated the transfer of Tsarnaev's remains with Peter Stefan, the Worcester police, and Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni. "We are all brothers and sisters in our humanity. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all believe we are created by God out of one man, a soul and a body. To God belongs the soul, and He has the final judgment…what Tsarnaev did is between him and God. We strongly disagree with his actions, but that does not release us from our obligation to return his body to the earth…We must all take a more positive, proactive approach with our children. We need to be in communication with them and know what they are exposed to on the Internet. As fathers and mothers, we must protect our children before they become poisoned by hatred," said one administrator, in reference to the probability that Tsarnaev was likely influenced online by radical Islamist ideology.
Mullen, a graduate of both United Theological Seminary and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in the Richmond area.