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Saudis launch blood campaign for Boston victims

Suspects reportedly from Chechnya, not from Arab country

Gulf News

Manama: Saudi graduate and postgraduate students in the US are launching a blood donation campaign in favour of the Boston terrorist bombing victims.

The campaign was decided after organisers had the backing of a prominent religious figure in Saudi Arabia who encouraged them to go ahead with the move.

“A Saudi student in the US asked me if he and other students should go ahead with the blood donation drive, and I encouraged them,” Shaikh Khalid Al Mosleh, the religious figure, posted on his Twitter account.

Saudis had initially come under suspicion after media reports claimed that a Saudi student, Abdul Rahman Ali Eisa Al Harbi, 20, was arrested for planting the bombs that caused the death of three spectators and injured dozens of other people watching the annual Marathon race on Monday.

Al Harbi and his father dismissed the claims as “totally false” and said that the quizzing by the police and the search of the apartment in Boston were part of the investigation routine.

The accusations sent a chill down their spines and reminded them of the campaigns waged against Arabs and Muslims following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the cities of New York and Washington.

Shaikh Khalid said that a student in London wrote him to claim that Saudi students felt uneasy in the British capital London following the blast in Boston.

“They are pointing at us Saudis as if we were criminals,” she wrote.

The suspects in the Boston marathon bombing were on Friday named as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, from southern Russia, near war-torn Chechnya, who arrived in the US more than five years ago.

According to reports in Boston, both men “appeared to embody the best of the American immigrant experience … who assimilated into the local Cambridge community and culture.”

Tamerlan, who was reportedly killed overnight in a shootout with police, was described as a talented boxer with hopes of joining the US Olympic team while his brother won a Cambridge City Scholarship in 2011.

News that the two suspects were not from Saudi Arabia or another Arab country was hailed by some Arabs as a vindication for their people.

“Why do we Arabs invariably stand as suspects and need to prove we are innocent?” wondered Nizal on Kuwaiti news site Al Aan.

“This is over now, but we will have to wait until the next accusation against us,” the blogger posted.

Naziha, a blogger in Bahrain, said that every time there was a terror attack, she feared one or more Arabs were involved.

“We of course condemn all forms of terror attacks wherever they happen,” she said.

“The problem is that the media in the West often have the ugly tendency to target the ethnic background of the suspect or perpetrator whenever he is an Arab or a Muslim, but overlooks it when he has a different background.

“We understand the media’s need for sensation although we do not excuse it because it is the cause of pain, anguish and suffering for races or religious groups,” she said.