News / USA

US Muslims Relieved at Death of bin Laden

Muslim Americans listen to a speaker at the "Today, I Am A Muslim, Too" rally in New York City (File)
Muslim Americans listen to a speaker at the "Today, I Am A Muslim, Too" rally in New York City (File)

In the past decade, many American Muslims have said Osama bin Laden changed their lives in America for the worse. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that he ordered killed nearly 3,000 people and made all Muslims a target of suspicion, they said.

So the killing of bin Laden by U.S. military commandos storming a heavily fortified compound in Pakistan was widely welcomed.

"Today we greet the news of the death of Osama bin Laden with immense relief," said Tarin.

Related video report by Kane Farabaugh

Haris Tarin, the head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council Washington office, says he was awake all night after the killing, communicating with Muslims, especially the younger generation.

"And I think the resounding message that I have gotten from many young people across the country, from emails, Facebook, telephone calls, Twitter - we see that the American-Muslim community had rejected Osama bin Laden," aid Tarin. "From them this is a chapter that they want closed."

Although Muslim organizations worked with law enforcement agencies and other faith groups, some of the young still embraced bin Laden's extremist message.

One lawmaker in Washington held congressional hearings in March, alleging American Muslim mosques were allowing their youth to become radicalized. Tarin said with bin Laden gone, the extremist message will have less appeal.

"It is a blow to the narrative - a narrative that calls for a binary view of the world - that the world is split between one group and another," said Tarin. "It is a narrative of exclusivity and not religious pluralism. And I think the majority of Muslims reject that message."

Tarin said the vast majority of Muslims would not turn bin Laden into a martyr. He said the democratic uprisings in the Middle East are proving al-Qaida's irrelevance.

Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali, President of the Islamic Society of America (L) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington (File)
Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali, President of the Islamic Society of America (L) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington (File)

Imam Mohammed Hagmagid of the Islamic Society of North America said justice has now been done for the attacks that are referred to here as 9/11.

"We hope his death will bring some relief to all families, of every faith and walk of life, who lost loved ones in 9/11," Majid said.

Majid said he agreed with President Barack Obama that bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, but a mass murderer.

But the imam went further, suggesting the terrorist leader did not live as a Muslim.

"You know in Islam, Prophet Mohammed said the following, 'He is not a person of faith [if] people do not feel safe from his hand and his tongue," Majid said.

But Majid said bin Laden's body was buried in accordance with Muslim strictures when the U.S. military disposed of it at sea.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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