It would be comforting to think that across the world there is universal joy at the death of Osama Bin Laden but judging from comments from politicians and others in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and the Lebanon that is not the case. Most striking was this comment from Mohammad in Yemen. “If Osama Bin Laden has really died and they killed him as they claim, a thousand Osama Bin Laden will appear, God willing.”
That of course is the fear, that the demise of Bin Laden will inspire many already radicalized Muslims to plan more attacks upon American and Western targets.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas administration in Gaza Strip has already stated that “we condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13256956
More worrying Mahmud Ezzat, deputy leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood [tipped to gain power in the forthcoming Presidential Elections] has said that with Bin Laden’s dead, Western forces should now pull out of Iraq and Afganistan. Tareq al-Zumar of Egypt’s Islamist group al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, which took up arms against the state in the 1990’s has been quoted as saying “Bin Laden will become a symbol of resistance to occupation… The U.S. killing of Bin Laden will undoubtedly galvanize reaction and retaliation attempts.”
On the streets, the reaction has been stronger. “Bin Laden defended the dignity of Muslims and now the U.S. and the West will answer for their occupation,” said Egyptian Abdullah Ali, a Salafist taxi driver in his 60s. Meanwhile Omar Bakri a Lebanese Sunni cleric, mourned bin Laden as a martyr. “His martyrdom will give momentum to a large generation of believers and jihadists. Al Qaeda is not a political party, it is a jihadist movement. Al Qaeda does not end with the death of a leader.”
The immediate reaction of the American Government has been to issue a warning to citizens living oversea to be cautious and ever vigilant but as we all know, waiting for the lights to turn green before crossing the road, won’t stop a piano falling on your head…
Here in Azerbaijan, reaction had been far more muted. I asked several American friends to let me know the reaction of people they came into contact with. They told me that for the most part, people didn’t mention it or said “congratulations” and moved on. The most interesting comment however was the following:
“I’ve asked one person about it, a guy who has a thoughtful disposition, and the only thing that came of it was that he said America has killed its own, referring to the 1980s when we [the US] were supplying Osama in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Then he said that if he was the American President, he would probably act the same way”.
So there you have it. Radicalized Muslims will take the death of Bin Laden as call to arms but here in Azerbaijan, where perhaps only 5% of the community are practicing Muslims http://www.aamik.az/ts_general/eng/news/ne-10.htm the news was greeted with a shrug as the world continues to spin on its axis…