Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For US Muslims, Osama Bin Laden Death a 'Relief.' Next: 'Kill the Ideology.'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For US Muslims, Osama Bin Laden Death a 'Relief.' Next: 'Kill the Ideology.'

Article excerpt

American Muslims say they hope that the death of Osama bin Laden will 'lower the temperature' and end the association of Islam with terrorism.

American Muslims, like their non-Muslim peers, are welcoming the news that Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday. Many Muslims add that even though the death of the Al Qaeda leader is a positive step in fighting global terrorism, the greater challenge is ending the hateful dogma Mr. bin Laden represented - a dogma that many saw as a gross distortion of their faith.

Bin Laden's ideologies created "an albatross around the practitioners of Islam, including American Muslims," which is why his death prompts a collective "sigh of relief," says Madhi Bray, spokesperson for the Muslim American Society, a civil liberties organization based in Washington, DC.

"You have the kill to ideology that has supported Al Qaeda. That's going to be the great mission, to fight intolerance and the lack of sensitivity among people," Mr. Bray says.

American Muslims 'feel under attack'

Since 9/11, Muslims living in the US have faced bigotry on many levels, including having to justify their religious faith to non- believers. Many recount the days before Al Qaeda and bin Laden became household names, when Muslims could practice their faith quietly and mosques could open without protest.

But since the escalation of the war on terrorism, American Muslims continue to face what they say amounts to discrimination, ranging from a proposed ban on practicing sharia - currently moving through the Tennessee legislature and passed last year in Oklahoma - to what Ihsan Bagby, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, describes as "hateful looks."

"Muslims in America feel under attack," says Professor Bagby, who hopes that bin Laden's death "will help lower the temperature and allow people to think more rationally and to understand that Muslims in general are unfairly being associated with terrorism."

In his speech late Sunday that announced bin Laden's death, President Obama paused to reiterate a point made repeatedly by President Bush in the wake of 9/11: "The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam." Mr. Obama called bin Laden "a mass murder of Muslims" and "not a Muslim leader," adding, "his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity. …

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