Rolling Stone puts Boston bombing suspect on cover, backlash ensues

17 Jul 2013

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The latest Rolling Stone cover featuring Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar 'Jahar' Tsarnaev

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Readers and fans of Rolling Stone have flooded the music magazine’s Facebook page and Twitter account with promises to cancel their subscriptions and never read the magazine again now that the publication has featured accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar ‘Jahar’ Tsarnaev on its cover.

Jahar and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are accused of perpetrating the two bombings at the Boston Marathon on 15 April that killed three people and injured as many as 264 others. Tamerlan was killed soon thereafter in a shootout with police in a Boston suburb.

Now Rolling Stone has placed 19-year-old Jahar on its cover with the coverline, “The bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster”.

On its Facebook page, Rolling Stone posted an image of its cover featuring Tsarnaev with the message, “In our new issue, contributing editor Janet Reitman delivers a deeply reported account of the life of Boston bomber Jahar Tsarnaev.”

Then came the backlash.

“I am ending my subscription. This is bullshit. Let’s honor those who hurt innocent people. Who’s next, George Zimmerman?? Rolling Stone is a music magazine, not the Taliban Times,” Facebook user David Beck wrote.

Francesca Pizzuto wrote her message as a resident of the area where events surrounding the bombings happened.

“Do you understand how fucking scary shit got because of this bastard!?” she wrote on Rolling Stone’s Facebook page. “I felt like I was in a third-world country, with army men walking around with huge guns checking my yard and house for him! My kids are 6 and 2!”

Many other Facebook users claimed to never buy another issue of the magazine and others also said they would cancel their subscription:

Rolling Stone on Facebook

Public reaction to the Rolling Stone cover has been just as strong on the magazine’s Twitter page.

Twitter user @msullivan2199 tweeted, “Lost all respect for you. Should’ve put survivors or a memorial to the dead instead.”

“I don’t need any revelations about Jahar or ‘his world’. I’m appalled at your decision to put him on the cover,” @SimplyShannon wrote.

One Twitter user, however, @Jiltedtrust, stated that Tsarnaev “has NOT been proven guilty. Your magazine is disgusting … slander against a young man who has not had his day in court.”

Other Twitter users expressed belief and disappointment with Rolling Stone’s cover choice :

Rolling Stone on Twitter

Rolling Stone has yet to respond to the public reaction to its Jahar Tsarnaev cover.

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Tina held senior editorial positions at daily newspapers in Ottawa and Toronto

editorial@siliconrepublic.com