Imam William Suhaib Webb emerges as face of Boston’s Muslim community in time of crisis

Imam William Suhaib Webb is head of a mosque in Roxbury.
Imam William Suhaib Webb is head of a mosque in Roxbury.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

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The face of Boston’s Muslim community in its time of crisis is a 6-foot-5-inch, blond-haired, blue-eyed former hip-hop DJ whose grandfather was a fundamentalist Christian preacher, and who moved to Boston just 18 months ago.

William Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, has been a target of conservative Muslims on the Internet, who call him a sellout, and of other critics, who say he is an extremist.

He has tried, for better or for worse, to respond to all of it — in his sermons, on CNN, on Twitter. At the same time, he has endeavored to deepen the mosque’s relationships with Jewish and Christian leaders in Boston.

The Marathon bombings cast Webb and his mission into a crucible. In the media, Islam was on trial again, and Webb was, too.

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