Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Rolling StoneWith his smoky eyes and tousled hair, the subject of the latest Rolling Stone cover story could pass for any rising US music star.

But this is no ordinary pop portrait. The stark cover line, “The Bomber”, overlays a picture ofDzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombingsuspect, and when the magazine published the cover on Tuesday night there was an immediate backlash. One criminologist warned that it glorified Tsarnaev – accused of planting bombs which killed three people and injured more than 260 others – and could send a dangerous message to others. On Wednesday, the pharmacy chain CVS said it would not stock the issue.

The photo accompanies an article by Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman, which the magazine described in a pre-publicity notice as a “deeply reported account” of Tsarnaev’s life, including the revelation that he had played down his Muslim faith in high school. The magazine promised “a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster”. It later posted the full article, along with a defence of the piece, saying it fell within the magazine’s tradition of reporting serious political and cultural issues.

The Tsarnaev cover drew considerable attention on the magazine’s Facebook page, with 9,000 comments posted by Wednesday morning.

Rolling Stone did not immediately publish the Tsarnaev profile online, which had the effect of focusing the initial debate on the picture. Shawn Anthony wrote: “I think it’s wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?” in a sentiment that was given the thumbs up by 1,202 people.

Continue reading in The Guardian


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