In his speech announcing the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden last night, President Barack Obama emphasized that bin Laden was not a Muslim leader:
“I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims,” Obama said.
Many established Muslim leaders are echoing similar sentiments, including the imam of Masjid At-Tawheed in York.
“It’s reassuring to hear these words from the president,” Ramos said. “This is simply capturing and killing a terrorist. That’s how it should be viewed. … It’s not the capturing and killing of a radical leader of Islam, but rather a rogue terrorist.”
After DNA testing to confirm its identify, the body was buried at sea. This is in part because burial in accordance with Islamic practice should take place quickly and preferably within hours and in part because no one (that is, no country) would accept the body, according to sources quoted by Time. Also, officials wanted to prevent the grave from becoming a shrine for bin Laden’s followers.
The Washington Post quotes a senior U.S. defense official saying the rites lasted for about 50 minutes: “Bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet and then placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read “religious remarks,” which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker.”
The AP reports some Islamic scholars are criticizing the sea burial, interpreting it as a humiliating disregard for the standard practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the Islamic holy city of Mecca.
Reactions continue to roll in from various faith leaders and institutions. It’s interesting to see some weighing the morality and ethics of this choice of action. Read on at the jump.
“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”
– The Vatican
“For those of us who embrace a version of the just war theory, honed carefully over the centuries of Christian tradition, our response is disciplined by belief that war itself is tragic and that all killing in war, even in self-defense, must be treated with sobriety and even mournfulness. War and all of its killing reflects the brokenness of our world. That is the proper spirit with which to greet this news. …”
– David Gushee of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
“All persons of good will can rejoice that the U.S. military has successfully ended Osama bin Laden’s career of terror. Sadly, since 9-11, many church voices have insisted that Christianity mandates pacifism. Hopefully there will be greater appreciation for The Church’s historic stance that God ordained the state to punish the wicked.”
– Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy
“We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama’s clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam.”
– The Council on American-Islamic Relations
“Few will mourn the reported death of Osama bin Laden, least of all Muslims. Many Muslims will reflect on the 10 years that have passed in which our faith and our community have been seen through the prism of terrorism and security. The Muslim Council of Britain has consistently stood firm against terrorism and violence, and will continue to do so.”
– Muslim Council of Britian
If revenge could have worked to create closure, revenge would already have its revenge. In the death of the personification of the terrorist act, we have a chance for another kind of closure. Enough, we say, when there is enough blood upon blood. …
– Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church in New York City
“I know President Obama understands that getting Bin Laden doesn’t mean an end to the war on terrorism but how about a smile? How about showing a little joy? How about a word or two saying something about how this is no doubt a happy or joyous occasion for Americans? We got nothing like that at all. Instead, we got Mr. Monotone. Mr. Bars and Tone. Mr. Non-Emotion. President Obama missed an opportunity to connect with Americans last night. …”
– David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network
“Welcome to hell, bin Laden.”
– Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas