The Search Is Over: Boston Bombing Suspect Has Been Buried

Audie Cornish talks to Martha Mullen, who spearheaded the effort to find a place to bury the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Earlier this week, we reported that the family of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev could not find a cemetery willing to accept his body. Well, thanks in part to a total stranger, Tsarnaev's body has found a final resting place at a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Virginia. Martha Mullen is that stranger, and she joins us now from Richmond. Martha, welcome to the program.

MARTHA MULLEN: Thank you.

CORNISH: Now, you took it upon yourself to find a cemetery that would bury his body, and you don't have a connection to his family, so why get involved?

MULLEN: Well, I was listening to NPR and I heard the story ongoing that he was unable to be buried and that people are protesting him. And it made me think of Jesus' words: Love your enemies. I felt that, also, he was being maligned probably because he was Muslim.

And Jesus tells us to - in the parable of the Good Samaritan - to love your neighbor as yourself. And your neighbor is not just someone you belong with but someone who is alien to you. That was the biggest motivation, is that, you know, if I'm going to live my faith, then I'm going to do that which is uncomfortable and not necessarily that's what comfortable.

CORNISH: So many cemeteries did you have to contact before you found the one that would accept the body?

MULLEN: Well, I didn't call specific cemeteries per se. I sent an email out to the Greater Richmond Islamic Society and also the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia. And the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia got back to me in about an hour, and they - I actually Googled Al-Barzakh Cemetery, and they got back to me pretty quickly, so...

CORNISH: What did they say when you reached out to them?

MULLEN: They were very forthcoming, and they said that they had spoken amongst themselves, and they felt that it was their moral and ethical obligation to return his body to the earth. And they offered - actually, they offered to donate the burial plot. But as I understand it, the family did recompensate them for that, so...

CORNISH: Now, what have you heard, if anything, from the Tsarnaev family?

MULLEN: I have not spoken to anyone in the Tsarnaev family.

CORNISH: Martha, you heard about the story because of the protests. And did you have concerns about making this move that you would become the target of protests or people would have a real problem with what you were doing?

MULLEN: Well, I thought about that, but there's a line in the Scripture that says whether we live or whether we die, we're the Lord's. And I feel like - I don't think anything really horrible is going to happen to me. I think people are probably going to be upset and irritated and disagree with what this interfaith group has decided to go forward with, but I feel like it was the right thing and it's important to be true to the principle of your faith.

CORNISH: That's Martha Mullen of Richmond, Virginia. She helped find a cemetery that would bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body. Martha, thank you for speaking with us.

MULLEN: Sure thing.

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