He’s Dead

Right so I went to sleep very late last night. In fact, I went to sleep after I heard that Ossama Bin Laden was killed near Islamabad in Pakistan. There was a raid on a mansion where apparently he was living for a while. Details are still sketchy, all we know is that a CIA force attacked the mansion with helicopters and a number of operatives. We don’t really know what role Pakistan and its army and intelligence played in this attack. There are also reports that one of the helicopters was shot down during the attack. The point is that the number one most wanted individual by the USA has been killed.

Before I talk about his death and what it might mean let me make something clear. OBL was a monster. There is no doubt in my mind that he was a horrible human being. He prayed on destitute and angry young Muslims and fed them an ideology of hate. His vision of Islam is one of hate and extremism. He has caused a lot of pain and suffering both in the west but even more in arab and Muslim countries. He propagated an ideology that reinforced ideas of the clash of civilisations and that reinforced the idea that arab and Muslim cultures are inferior. I think his greatest crime is that he tainted resistance with a monstrous Islamic ideology that caused the death of hundreds of thousands all over the world, if not millions, both directly and indirectly.

Having said that. I have to admit that the scenes of celebration coming out the US are making me feel sick to my stomach. I never liked celebrating death. Whenever the media showed arabs and Muslims celebrating the death of Westerners it was accompanied by comments on how bad and ugly this was. I have to admit that I shared this feeling. Death is not something to be celebrated, even if it is the death of a monster. However, we saw images of young and old americans taking to the streets in joy at the news of the death of that man. I do not understand how this is different. How is it that celebrating the death of a human being is okay?

I read a few comments on social media and other blogs about how disgusting it is that this has happened. Some were pointing out that if celebrations like this happened around the Arab and Muslim worlds when George W Bush dies they would be greeted with disgust and comments about the inferiority of Arab and Muslim cultures. Remember that Bush is hated in Arab and Muslim countries more than OBL was in the West. He caused the death of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Arabs and Muslims, most of them civilians. He caused these deaths through his wars and his support for disgusting regimes including Saudi, Egypt, Jordan, israel, to name a few.

But all of this talk of celebrating death is not the only thing that bothers me about the whole thing. OBL has been irrelevant for a number of years now. He was powerless for a while now. His irrelevance was made bare by the Arab revolutions where people rose up, and are continuing to rebel, against regimes brutalised and oppressed them. These revolutionaries weren’t and aren’t connected with OBL and AlQuaida in any way. OB’s name didn’t come up at any point because he was completely irrelevant. All the people who rose up weren’t motivated by an islamist ideology, whether extreme or moderate. Some of them are Islamists but they aren’t rising up under that ideology. They are all rising up for a secular state that protects their individual rights, including their right of belief.

What the Arab Spring has shown is that Islamists have lost the argument. The islamic solution was clearly rejected by the arab population. The revolutionaries didn’t want to replace their old dictators with bearded versions. They want democratic states that defend them and their interests, not those of the US or Saudi, or israel, or iran, or anyone. The Arab awakening which we are living through right now has not only put the uS and its allies on the back foot, but also iran and its allies, and more importantly Alquaida and its offshoots. Not only was OBL not mentioned or evoked during the revolutions but he never crossed the minds of the revolutionaries. He was a relic of an ideology that is on the wane. An ideology that was rejected by the absolute majority of Muslims.

But now he was killed and this can be bad. T, a friend of mine, put it very well. She said the with this action the “US inserted islamism within the paradigm”. Now there is a fear of retaliation and the possibility of infecting the arab spring with an ideology that had no place in it. I am confident that the revolutionaries all over the Arab countries will not be infected so easily but there is a new danger to worry about now. I won’t be surprised if endangered regimes use this to their advantage. Anyway, those are my quite confused and I think not very eloquent thoughts on the death of OBL. I would have preferred to see him tried in the international court along with other monsters like Bush, Blair, Cheney, and others, but you can’t always get what you wish for. There’s still hope though the others are still loose.


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