Boston bombing suspect on Rolling Stone cover

The Rolling Stone cover which will be published on August 1. Photo: Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone magazine has sparked controversy by placing Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the front cover of its next edition.

Some retailers have already announced they will not stock the magazine, when it hits the newstands on August 1.

Tsarnaev is a suspect in the April 15 bombings at the marathon finish line, that killed three and wounded more than 260. He is currently awaiting trial.

A statement on the magazine's website from its editors - which previews the upcoming issue - says the story falls within the traditions of journalism and the magazine's commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage.

Text on the magazine cover reads: "The Bomber. How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."

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 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.

– Rolling Stone editors
Three people died and more than 260 people were wounded in the Boston bombings. Credit: REUTERS/Dan Lampariello

The CVS pharmacy chain, based about 50 miles from Boston in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and a Rockland, Massachusetts-based convenience store chain, Tedeschi Food Shops, both said they will not carry the magazine when it is published.

"Tedeschi Food Shops supports the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone," the chain said on its Facebook page. "Music and terrorism don't mix!"

The Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, has written a letter to the editor of Rolling Stone saying the cover is "ill conceived at best".

One of the marathon runners, Lauren Gabler, who works in IT consulting in Washington and was running her fourth Boston Marathon this year, said she at first thought the Rolling Stone photo was of a model or rock star and was surprised when she realised it was Tsarnaev.

"The cover almost tricks you into what you're looking at," she said.

A woman is comforted by a man near a triage tent set up for the Boston Marathon. Credit: Reuters

She had finished the race well ahead of went the bombs went off hours into the race but was two blocks away headed to brunch when she heard and felt the explosions. She was not hurt.

"I haven't read the article yet, and I know it will probably be quite in-depth, but my initial reaction is that the photo that's being used almost makes him look like a good guy," she said.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland (center L) visits a memorial in Copley Square near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Credit: REUTERS/Dominick

"That's the story line, but I think the public will have trouble, like me, making the association between here's the Boston bomber and here's the guy who appears to be cool on the cover of Rolling Stone."

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges in connection with the bombings.