From Bombing Suspect to Pop Celeb: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev graces the cover of Rolling Stone mag

Published July 19th, 2013 - 04:00 GMT
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. (Image: Naharnet)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. (Image: Naharnet)

U.S. magazine Rolling Stone was under fire Wednesday for placing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, which critics said treats the Boston bombing suspect almost like a pop celebrity.

This week's cover of the publication known for its interviews with rock stars shows a goateed Tsarnaev, 19, with a melancholic expression, his tousled brown curls falling gently into his eyes.

The image, which sparked outrage in some quarters, was likened to a famous cover portrait of the late singer Jim Morrison of the rock group "The Doors," who died in unclear circumstances in 1971.

The accompanying Rolling Stones article, titled "The Bomber," was described by the magazine in a statement as a "deeply reported account of the life and times" of Tsarnaev.

The article is based on interviews with dozens of sources that "deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster," it said.

Versions of the Tsarnaev photo previously have been reproduced by others, but Rolling Stone's use of the image has irked many in a country still shocked by the carnage caused by the pressure cooker bombs detonated at this year's Boston Marathon.

U.S. officials charge that Tsarnaev, working with now deceased older brother Tamerlan, set the bombs.

Tsarnaev faces a 30-count indictment -- including 17 counts punishable by death -- for his role in the April 15 twin blasts at the city's marathon that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Rolling Stone's Facebook page was filled with comments Wednesday, including one from a poster named Shawn Anthony, who said it was wrong to make a celebrity out of Tsarnaev.

"Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?," he posted. "Don't make martyrs out of these people."

"Oh look, Rolling Stone magazine is glamorizing terrorism. Awesome," posted Adrienne Graham. "I will NOT be buying this issue, or any future issues."

Others, such as Tom Guerra, said Rolling Stone should have featured a boy who perished in the explosions, which are also blamed on Tsarnaev's older brother Tamerlan killed in a shootout with police several days later.

"Maybe a pic of the little 8 year old boy that was killed by this piece of garbage would have made a better cover," he posted. "Cancel my subscription to your publication."

The comparison to the iconic Morrison magazine cover was pointed out by others.

"New Rolling Stone cover turns the Boston bomber into Jim Morrison," tweeted Judd Legum of the ThinkProgress political blog, along with side-by-side snapshots of the two covers.

Earlier this month, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in U.S. federal court.

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