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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Rolling Stone's Boston bombing suspect cover ignites firestorm

Rolling Stone magazine ignited a firestorm of anger online by putting Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its latest issue.

Rolling Stone Boston bomber coverEnlarge
Rolling Stone magazine's latest controversial cover, featuring Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (Rolling Stone/Facebook)

Rolling Stone magazine has ignited a firestorm of anger online by putting Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its latest issue.

The picture used on the cover is one that Tsarnaev himself posted online, and it has been widely published by other media outlets. Many took exception to its use as the cover of Rolling Stone, however, since the space is usually reserved for celebrities. Boston-area readers have said it turned the accused killer into a rock star.

Rolling Stone released a statement Wednesday afternoon about the cover that has outraged so many of its readers.

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day," the magazine's statement said.

"The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a letter to the magazine, saying the cover "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment" and called the idea "ill-conceived at best."

He suggested Rolling Stone is telling criminals that their awful work can be rewarded; however, Menino said he refuses to get angry because that will just sell magazines.

Instead, the mayor says, Rolling Stone should have concentrated its efforts on the survivors, victims and emergency workers.

"The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them," Menino said.

The article referred to on the cover, titled "The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster," was written by contributing editor Janet Reitman. It is said to be based on interviews with Tsarnaev's childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents.

Rolling Stone, which writes Tsarnaev's first name Jahar, called the story on its Facebook page "a deeply reported account of the life of Boston bomber Jahar Tsarnaev."

The magazine's fan page was flooded with comments, mostly negative, about their latest issue.

"I think it's wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone? TIME gave Charles Manson the cover and all the magazines carried pictures of the Columbine shooters on the covers, too. Don't make martyrs out of these people," wrote one person.

More from GlobalPost: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleads not guilty for Boston Marathon bombing

"Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover," wrote another.

The Jim Morrison-like cover picture could send a dangerous message to those who see the magazine, according to one critic who spoke to MyFoxBoston.com.

"If they want to become famous, kill somebody," said Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin about the possible message people could take away from the Tsarnaev issue.

While the latest issue of Rolling Stone will be published on Friday, many revelations have been made about what's in the article about Tsarnaev on rollingstone.com, including that the mention of a former wrestling coach might have led him to surrender to police, and that he once let it slip that he thought the 9/11 attacks could be justified because of US policies toward Muslim countries and US drone attacks.

CVS and Tedeschi’s stores have already said they won't sell the issue, which is to hit newsstands on Friday, CBS in Boston reported.

And the rock stars and celebrities who normally occupy the front page are also lashing out at editors.

Everyone from Motley Crue's Tommy Lee to OneRepublic, country star John Rich and Jack and Kelly Osbourne have sent out nasty tweets. Jack Osbourne called for a boycott. 

This is not Rolling Stone's first controversial cover.

The magazine featured Charles Manson on one of its issues in 1970 in what it called a "special report," which included a prison interview with Manson. It became one of Rolling Stone's best-selling issues and went on to win a National Magazine Award.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130717/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-rolling-stone-boston-bombing-suspect-cover