Belief Beat

Belief Beat

BREAKING NEWS: Osama Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan; U.S. Muslim Groups Respond; Updated Faith Links

So much for the royal wedding stealing the thunder of Pope John Paul’s beatification, the Bible Belt tornado deaths, the “60 Minutes” interview with Lara Logan about her assault in Cairo, and all the other news going on this weekend — the top story now, faith-related and otherwise, is certainly the confirmed death of Osama bin Ladin.


(Ah, how I wish I were still in New York for this news.)

President Obama’s televised address to the jubilant nation included an important sentiment for Islamophobes and Muslims alike:

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.  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.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.


A few hours later, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued the following statement:

“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.”

And the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) “greeted the news of the death of Osama bin Laden with an immense sense of relief. This is a time when our country must  stand together, and turn the page on a decade of terror led by bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.” From the group’s press release:


“We hope this is a turning point away from the dark period of the last decade, in which bin Laden symbolized the evil face of global terrorism,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “His actions and those of Al-Qaeda have violated the sacred Islamic teachings upholding the sanctity of all human life. His acts of senseless terror have been met with moral outrage by Muslims worldwide at every turn in the past decade.”

Here are some of the headlines from my religion news sources — I’ll add more throughout the next 24 hours:

Nothing from CNN Belief Blog yet, but contributor Stephen Prothero posted on Facebook tonight, “US must be VERY careful about what it does with Osama bin Laden’s body.” I presumed that he was referring to a concern that any egregious mistreatment of his body – particularly in terms of Islamic tradition – would become fodder for retaliatory terrorism, but he has further clarified his remark, “So important there is no pilgrimage site for his followers to come to adulate him as a martyr.” Also a good point.  Here’s Prothero’s My Take: Burying bin Laden at sea an elegant solution.


Edited to add: Reuters confirmed the body was being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition, and the L.A. Times explains the logic behind the sea burial.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 12:51 am

for what it’s worth, Episcopal Cafe hardly has anything. Here’s more on Christians’ responses:

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Nicole Neroulias

posted May 2, 2011 at 12:52 am

Thanks, Sarah — I added that a few minutes ago, when I saw the link pop up. Refresh the post, if it’s not showing up yet.

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posted May 2, 2011 at 12:57 am

nice roundup!

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Nicole Neroulias

posted May 2, 2011 at 1:21 am

Thanks — I’ve already updated it about a dozen times in the past 90 minutes! Time to get some sleep now; there will be lots more links to add in the morning. (Fittingly, if you recall the timing of the 9/11 attacks, there are many people who have been asleep as this story broke, and will be waking up to some BIG NEWS.)

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Apuleius Platonicus

posted May 2, 2011 at 6:55 am

What is Islamic tradition for the treatment of the body of mass murdering dog who has finally been killed?

As to whether or not bin Laden was a Muslime leader, isn’t that for Muslims to decide? And didn’t a great many Muslims decide that he was their leader? Recent polls indicate that nearly 20% of Muslims supported him. Is there any other “Muslim leader” with that level of support?

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posted May 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thank God for finally eliminating a mass murderer, and I hope the second in command will soon have the same fate, and let us not rest until Al-Qaeda is no longer a threat to the whole world.

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Nicole Neroulias

posted May 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

Can you cite your source for that “Muslims who supported Bin Laden” statistic, Apuleius? Sounds extremely fishy — it’s not Glenn Beck, is it? Also, I’m sure you would find a difference between U.S. Muslims supporting Bin Laden and Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. (Also, between Shia and Sunni, and that sort of thing — Islam, like Christianity, is not monolithic.)

As for an appropriate way to handle the body, for example, don’t Christians have a certain minimum standard for how to treat a corpse, even of a loathed enemy? I think the concern is that we could easily end up with an Abu Graib situation, if emotions aren’t kept in check and the body handled and disposed of properly. (I also thought it was disgusting that the U.S. released photographs of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons, but apparantly that was a necessary “proof of death” situation.)

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