Hours after the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston Medical Center clinical psychologist Dr. Shamaila Khan was holding the hand of a woman who just found out her son’s leg was about to be amputated.
Khan, the hospital’s director for disaster and behavioral health training and a Muslim, told people outside the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury for a vigil Tuesday night how the mother, crying, tried to understand how this could happen to her family, Khan said.
“These Islamists,” the victim’s mother said, according to Khan.“They really need to get out of this country.”
Khan continued to hold the mother’s hand. She kept in touch while their son began his recovery. She never told them she was Muslim.
“I think part of me was left thinking, what if they knew the person who was helping them through this was Muslim?” she said.
Imam William Suhaib Webb, the Islamic Society mosque’s leader, said some members are frightened for a backlash after the attacks.
“It’s important for us to reflect on the value of human life and the value of the city, and how sacred those things are,” Webb said.
The Roxbury mosque is a sister organization of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, where bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev sometimes prayed.
Vigil leaders did not mention the suspects.
Earlier in the day, officials of the Cambridge mosque said they had called the FBI as soon as they heard that the Tsarnaev brothers prayed there.
They next searched out congregation members who knew the young men, and told them to call authorities “ASAP.”
“These guys tore apart this city,” said Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Boston, near Inman Square. “I want to see them, if they are criminals, behind bars.”
And on Friday, when police cornered Dzhokhar in Watertown, religious leaders offered to mediate the standoff.
Vali said the FBI responded on Sunday and asked him and congregants who knew the brothers to come in for interviews. He visited the FBI Sunday and others went Monday.
“Thankfully, we have a cooperative relationship here,” said Vali, who also directs the Islamic Society mosque in Roxbury and did not know the brothers.
Vali said leaders would have reported Tamerlan or his brother if they had given any indication of violent intentions.
“We’re a mosque that has very good relationships with law enforcement,” he said.