By Eric Mayes, Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune –
Officials with the local chapter of the Council on American Muslim Relations greeted the news of Osama bin Laden’s death with a relief shared by most Americans.
We’re proud of President Obama and of our Armed Forces for bringing justice to the world,” said Meoin Khawaja, executive director of the local group. “He’s attacked people all over the world.”
Bin Laden’s role — and that of all radical Muslims — in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks cast a shadow over all Muslims, Khawaja said.
“I’ll never forget that day 10 years ago when my country was attacked,” Khawaja said. “I’ll also never forget that my religion and that of over one billion people was tarnished in such a manner that Osama bin Laden became one of the most recognized Muslims in the world. Now, I’m confident that my fellow Americans know that Islam isn’t and never was bin Laden or his ideology, but like all religions is a path to peace and love.”
Spontaneous celebrations were reported in New York City and Washington D.C. The Phillies game was interrupted when the crowd broke into chants of “U.S.A.” and “Bye Bye Bin Laden” after news of his death in a U.S. raid was reported.
Individually, Philadelphians had varied reactions.
“Next they should go after Bush,” said William Payton. “You let his family out of the United States.”
Payton refused to be swept up in the euphoria reported across the nation.
“Show me some proof that he’s dead,” Payton said. “He might be; he might not be. I want to see some proof.”
Photos of a blood spattered Bin Laden were flashed across the globe in Monday morning’s papers. Reports from both CBS and ABC news said they were composite photos and that the White House had withheld real photos because of their gruesome nature.
“You can put anything in the paper,” said Payton.
Officials in Washington said they had DNA samples to prove that the al Qaida leader was in fact dead.
Others took officials at their word.
“Mr. Obama made a promise and he kept it,” said a woman who asked to be identified only by the initials D.E., adding that she was relieved by the news. “Now they will go after the rest of them and they will stop killing people.”
Like Payton, she suggested that bin Laden was not caught during the Bush administration because of personal or financial concerns.
“Why didn’t Bush get him a long time ago?” she asked rhetorically. “They were friends.”
Several Muslims declined to discuss the death.
“I don’t get into politics,” said a young man wearing a taqiyah and shalwar kameez, as he stood near the Clothes Pin across from City Hall with a woman in a full burqa. He declined to give his name.
Another man agreed.
“I’ll let God handle this,” the man said. He too refused to give his name. “He [bin Laden] never did anything to me.”
Others were glad that the terror leader was dead.
“I’m at peace,” said O. James. “Hopefully, all this comes to an end. I hope it brings peace.” Officials with the Department of Homeland Security and city police were on heightened alert following the news.
James said was concerned about the possibility of retaliation.
“You still have his followers out there,” she said.
Khawaja remained optimistic.
“It’s the long-term beginning of the end,” he said. “I really hope and feel that this is the beginning of the next 10 years, and that the next 10 years will be a winding down of terrorism.”
Contact staff writer Eric Mayes at (215) 893-5742 or email@example.com.