Fwd: altmuslim this week - april 25, 2011

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From: altmuslim this week <info@altmuslim.com>
Date: Tue, 3 May 2011 12:11:51 -0400
Subject: altmuslim this week - april 25, 2011
To: islammus@gmail.com

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altmuslim this week - april 25, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - Assalamu aleikum and welcome back. The sudden and
shocking news of the death of Osama bin Laden, long the world's most
wanted man, may not change the course of history as much as the
September 11, 2001 attacks he sponsored. Despite the simmering
conflict in Afghanistan, launched in retaliation for 9/11, bin Laden
was found in Abbotabad, an upscale suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan,
where a military base and academy is located. From a tipoff by a
Guantanamo inmate (sure to be used to justify such detainment), a
trail led to bin Laden's courier. By last Friday, President Obama
ordered the raid, staged by two dozen Navy SEALs, that stormed the
huge compound and killed bin Laden before taking his body and other
evidence within 40 minutes. It was a unilateral act. "We shared our
intelligence on this compound with no other country, including
Pakistan," a senior administration official said. While Pakistani
newspapers initially denied this, Pakistan's government and military
eventually admitted no prior knowledge - despite the rather unusual
circumstances of bin Laden's confinement. The news has put Pakistan
under intense scrutiny about the presence of bin Laden deep in its
territory and what protective network supported him. Caught between
cooperation with the US that is both insufficient (by US standards)
and excessive (by the sentiments of many Pakistanis), Pakistan is left
in an unenviable position. But the unease which Pakistanis feel at
unilateral US action should not be confused with blanket support for
bin Laden, al Qaeda, or its objectives. Bin Laden, after all, died in
a million dollar house (not a cave) and apparently used one of his
wives as a human shield during the raid - hardly the stuff his legend
was created from. The retaliatory violence that may follow, if any,
will likely be aimless and half-hearted. Supporters of bin Laden, such
as the Taliban, have already accepted bin Laden's demise and pledged
more attacks, but it's hard not to interpret bin Laden's loss as
irreplaceable, and the beginning of the end of the al Qaeda franchise
itself. A few observers are left quarelling about the Islamic
permissibility of the swift sea burial of bin Laden and others are
beginning to insist the man is not bin Laden without more proof (a
swift DNA test that matched the brain of one of bin Laden's sisters
who died in Boston was all the proof America needed). But the story
and facts are compelling enough for nearly all of bin Laden's friends
and foes alike. The heart of al Qaeda is gone. With it, a long and
tragic chapter in world history closes.

Meanwhile, the threat from al Qaeda-inspired extremism certainly isn't
going away, but how much of it has crumbled under its own fragility
anyway? If polls in recent years of Arabs and Muslims showing a
rejection of al Qaeda ideology were not trustworthy enough, the Arab
Spring removed nearly all doubts. Protestors in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen,
and Syria have explicitly rejected not only bin Laden's ilk, but the
type of theocracy he and others championed. In the Muslim world's
reaction to bin Laden's death, only Hamas has praised bin Laden on his
death as "a holy Muslim warrior." American Muslims have expressed
everything from "abolute delight" to "relief," while reaction
elsewhere overseas more mixed. "After ten years, including two wars,
919,967 deaths and spending over 1.18 trillion dollars, we managed to
kill one person," said Kuwaiti political activist Salem Belal. And
then there's the movement itself. For all the talk about possible
retaliation, there is plenty of uncertainty about who's calling the
shots. Al-Qaeda's theology is "still present but it's weakening," says
David H. Schanzer, a professor at Duke University in Durham, North
Carolina and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland
Security. "The question is who is going to continue to inspire
individuals to take such extreme action?" Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has
often relayed communications on bin Laden's behalf, has little of the
appeal of his deceased leader. Then there's Anwar al-Awlaki, the
American-born cleric in hiding in Yemen who has shown some of the
inspirational ability of bin Laden. But he is still unlikely to have
as much global appeal (or a fear factor for the West) unless he is
able to pull off a 9/11-style act of terror - a long shot, given his
track record of dimwitted accomplices and half-baked plots. The death
of bin Laden will hasten an already swirling downward spiral, until
random acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam are seen as
such - merely random. In the meantime, Muslims can look forward to the
gains found in non-violent strategies for change - peaceful
demonstrations in the Arab world and constructive engagement in
Western civil society, both of which give new meanings to the word
sacrifice. "Millions of Arab Muslims rose up and were prepared for
their own martyrdom – not for Islam but for freedom and liberty and
democracy," writes veteran analyst Robert Fisk, who once met bin
Laden. "Bin Laden didn't get rid of the tyrants. The people did. And
they didn't want a caliph."

Finally, what does the death of bin Laden mean for relationships
between Muslim communities and the West? After all, bin Laden was the
father of Islamophobia, a phenomenon that was negligible (though
certainly not non-existent) in comparison to recent years,
particularly in the United States. And for many people of my
generation - Western-born or raised Muslims - bin Laden's attacks on
September 11, 2001 was the day we became less American and more
Muslim. Those of us who were marginally identified by our religion at
the time realized that a time had come when we had to do something
more proactive to define who we are. Sadly, that proved to be an
uphill struggle. Much of the opposition to Park51, the "Ground Zero
Mosque," was rooted in the shadow of bin Laden, with a presumption
that Muslims were obsessed (or, charitably, susceptible) to terrorism
and violence - this despite a near absence of such among mainstream
American Muslims. The death of bin Laden has left a vacuum that can be
filled by more hate, or by more constructive actions by those on both
sides. It may seem normal, if a tad undignified, to see fellow
Americans gathering at Ground Zero to chant patriotic "frat-boy"
slogans. But if you consider it unusual for some Muslims to refrain
from cheering about bin Laden's death, consider that the Vatican
concurred, asking for "prayer more than revelry" in such
circumstances. Along with prayer, we need to reflect on what a decline
in al Qaeda means. Muslims worldwide have overcome huge hurdles to
push back against the bin Laden narrative. Those in the Middle East
and north Africa have pushed for democratic reform and freedom on
their own terms and Muslims living in the West have contributed to the
well being of their neighbours and the betterment of their society as
businessmen, elected officials, and participants in popular culture.
Talking about closure is talking about half the solution. The other
half involves active participation and a fuller commitment to bridging
the gaps of misunderstanding that have been clouded by the War on
Terror for too long.


Death and deliverance
As a Muslim American, I cannot help but hope that the closure afforded
by the death of an evil man, can afford some much needed deliverance
to a community unfairly scrutinized and unduly targeted (No comments
and no reactions)

The 5 stages of Muslim-American emotion
A flood of emotion has come over all Americans in the wake of the
demise of Osama bin Laden. Muslim Americans are no exception. Aziz
Poonawalla takes us through five stages of response. (2 comments and
11 reactions)

A terrorist victim isn't always someone else
Victims and survivors of terrorism such as Tahir Wadood Malik have
suffered through a loss so traumatic that many others will hopefully
never have to understand or share. (1 comment and 2 reactions)

Why are there so few Muslim terrorists?
Charles Kurzman's book The Missing Martyrs is an important
contribution to the combating of false stereotypes, pointing to
terrorism as a political rather than religious phenomenon and
demonstrating the relative failure of al Qaeda ideology. (2 comments
and no reactions)

Jihad came to me in its kindest, most gentle form
Though the media circus Rep. Peter King orchestrated recently did
nothing but stir and, in some cases, reinforce feelings of
Islamophobia and anti-muslim bigotry, none of us has to buy into it.
(No comments and 7 reactions)

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