Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Osama Bin Laden's Death Is a Victory - for the 21st Century

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Osama Bin Laden's Death Is a Victory - for the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Osama bin Laden saw a clash of civilizations: Muslims vs. non- Muslims. He was wrong. This is a battle between the civilizations of the 7th century and the 21st century. And Bin Laden's death is a victory for all of us who choose to live in the modern world.

The man who successfully launched the war of civilizations is dead - but his war rages on. Osama bin Laden, the iconic face of global terrorism, has finally met the fate President George W. Bush promised when he pronounced the judgment that the United States would get him eventually, "dead or alive." President Obama carried out the sentence.

Both leaders were at pains to affirm to the Muslim world that the war on terror is not a war against Islam. They believed it necessary to repeat those assurances because so many Muslims have bought into Bin Laden's false syllogism: America, a nonMuslim country, was killing some Muslims, therefore it is at war with all Muslims.

Many in the West also fell into Bin Laden's trap: some Muslims have attacked Americans and other Westerners, so all of Islam is at war with the West.

For those in both camps holding those views, the war on terror is a war of civilizations.

The reality, slightly more complex and thus less amenable to slogans, is that if there are two civilizations in conflict, it is not Muslims vs. nonMuslims, it is the civilization of the 21st century against that of the 7th. Bin Laden and adherents of his extremist ideology oppose all those - Muslims and "infidels" alike - who choose to live in the modern world of religious tolerance and even secularism.

The pure lust for power

The self-appointed keepers of the "original," "authentic" version of Islam as it was practiced in the time of Muhammed cannot tolerate such concepts as respect for different belief systems or the equality of women. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, violent Wahhabis and Salafists, and their militant Shiite counterparts see themselves as the guardians of the pure, true faith. …

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