The question of what to do with a terrorist corpse will reach all the way to the governor’s office in Massachusetts. After protests erupted at a funeral home preparing the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, no cemetery in the area will accept his remains. The funeral director is frustrated, and so is Tsarnaev’s uncle Ruslan Tsarni, the instant hero during the search for his two nephews, who tells cameras that he’s been left all alone to deal with this issue, and that he has nowhere else to go:
The city of Cambridge told Peter Stefan that they wouldn’t allow Tsarnaev to be interred anywhere within their borders, even if they found a cemetery willing to take the body:
One of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects has been dead more than two weeks after a dramatic showdown with police in Watertown, Mass., on April 19.
But officials and his family still don’t know where Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen who turned to conservative Islam, will be buried.
On Sunday, city officials in Cambridge, Tsarnaev’s home in the United States, announced that the city’s cemetery would reject his body for burial after other local cemeteries also said they did not want the remains.
“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 provided 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.”
This sounds like political posturing, but it’s not just that. It’s not much of a mystery why cemetery owners would be loathe to allow Tsarnaev to be buried, or at least have a grave marker. It means that they will have to increase security for a long time to come to keep the site from being repeatedly vandalized. Another worry might be that the gravesite might become a weird sort of shrine for fans of violent jihad or just violence in general. Needless to say, that won’t make the families of loved ones already buried in a cemetery very happy, and it’s likely to bring an end to any future business the cemetery might get, too.
The funeral director has appealed directly to Deval Patrick for intervention:
An embattled Worcester, Mass., funeral director who accepted Tamerlan Tsarnaev‘s body will ask Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick for help finding a burial site, and says he hopes to inter the corpse by Monday night.
After the Cambridge, Mass., city manager indicated his city wouldn’t accept the Boston Marathon bombing suspect’s body,Peter Stefan of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors funeral hometold the Worcester Telegram & Gazette he’ll take the matter to Beacon Hill this morning. He said his goal is to have the body buried by tonight. …
“Is it a government problem? I think it is,” Stefan told the Telegram. “You have to bury somebody and so far, I haven’t seen anybody that’s offered. Now we can either do that, or do what with him? Keep him forever in storage?”
At least one group is attempting to find a free-market solution:
Community activist William T. Breault, chairman of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety, says he intends to establish a fund to send suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body to his native country.
Mr. Breault said he will announce the fund at a press conference at 11:30 a.m. today outside the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors at 838 Main St., the funeral home that has Mr. Tsarnaev’s body.
The fund will be started with a $500 donation by Mr. Breault, who said he has talked to two Worcester area funeral directors and found the cost of flying the body back to Mr. Tsarnaev’s native Kyrgyzstan, or the Dagestan region of Russia, where his parents now live, would be roughly $3,000 to $7,000.
“I don’t look at it as I’m helping his family,” Mr. Breault said. “I look at it as I’m helping the citizens of Boston, Worcester and this state move on from this problem.”
That certainly would rid Stefan and Massachusetts of their headache, but how many people really want to pay for Tsarnaev’s funeral? That’s what a contribution would effectively do. While that might be the humane thing to do, it’s also asking a lot from the people Tsarnaev attempted to terrorize, too. Of course, that’s still a voluntary action rather than a state mandate of the kind Stefan apparently seeks.
Here’s one solution: why not bury Tsarnaev in an unmarked grave, and keep the cemetery identity secret? That would resolve all of the issues for cemetery owners, and satisfy the needs of the funeral director who ended up with the body. The family could be told where the body has been buried after a few weeks and encouraged to show discretion when visiting, if they bother to do so at all.