Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Muslim leaders welcome news that bin Laden's gone

TAMPA — Local Muslims welcomed the end of Osama bin Laden — the terrorist who "hijacked our religion" — but aren't celebrating another death in what some said is a decade of persecution against Islam.

"Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims," said local Muslim advocate Ahmed Bedier. "Islam is an American religion … and we join our fellow Americans at this defining moment.

"However," Bedier continued. "It's 91/2 years too late. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Muslims lamented the civilians lost in the 10-year hunt for bin Laden. But they also called Sunday "a day of justice," as many of al-Qaida's victims were Muslim.

From 2004 to 2008, 85 percent of the terrorist group's 3,010 victims were from Muslim countries, according to a study by West Point scholars.

Others said only one sentiment prevailed: relief.

"I'm not going to say I'm happy he's dead, but I'm happy he's gone," said Zuhair Alabbasi, a 47-year-old Palestinian, outside the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area, a mosque and community center. "We only hope this helps ends the war."

Some said the early reaction of relatives and friends in the Middle East was similar: "Shock and surprise. People are not necessarily celebrating, but they're relieved," Bedier said. "There's a sense of unity that a chapter is closing."

Alabbasi's 16-year-old son, Najee, said there were "mixed emotions" in school, where students memorize the Koran. Some classmates rejoiced, he said, but most were skeptical — maybe an offshoot of growing up Muslim in post-Sept. 11 America.

"Unless there's some photo evidence. … It's been said before: he's killed, then he's alive, then he's killed," Najee Alabbasi said. "Only God knows whether he's dead or alive."

Local Muslim leaders used the event to push for a more targeted, less militant foreign policy.

Bedier and representatives from the Tampa chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society praised the U.S. approach to killing bin Laden — a precise attack without civilian deaths. He said if America proceeds similarly in its war against terror, it will breed less hatred, and thus fewer future terrorists.

Several Muslims worried celebrations over bin Laden's death could turn anti-Muslim.

"There's a lot of idiots out there," said Alan Algary, an Iraqi who has lived in the Unites States since 1980.

Zuhair Alabbasi said bin Laden's death could spell danger "from both sides — al-Qaida may want to retaliate, and at the same time, the reaction here might be to lash back at Muslims."

Jack Nicas can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or jnicas@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Muslim leaders welcome news that bin Laden's gone 05/02/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Warehouse burns on Tampa's east side

    News

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County emergency crews are at the scene of a two-alarm fire at a warehouse near 56th Street and East Hillsborough Avenue.

    Hillsborough County firefighters battle a blaze Thursday night at a warehouse on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  2. 'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

    Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher (89) on the ice during Lightning training camp in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17).
  3. Irma roughs up endangered snail kites, birds that help us gauge the Everglades' health

    Wildlife

    Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.

    Hurricane Irma destroyed 44 snail kite nests, capping off a poor mating season for the endangered species, which is seen as an important barometer of the health of the Florida Everglades. Their off-center beaks allow them to probe inside the spiral shells of the native apple snails. But the snails' population has dropped as the Everglades has changed. [MAC STONE | Audubon of Florida]
  4. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  5. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]