CAIR-Tampa reacts to the death of Osama Bin Laden listen05/02/11 Joshua Lee Holton
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There has also been local reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Today they held a press conference at their office in Temple Terrace, welcoming the Al Qaeda leader’s demise. CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, and one of the first joint American Muslim groups to condemn the attacks on 9/11, just hours after they occurred. Ramzy Kılıç is the Communications director for CAIR’s Tampa chapter.
"We, today, welcome the announcement of the elimination of the threat of Osama bin Laden to our nation and we repeatedly stated since 9/11 that Osama bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are responsible for the death of countless Muslims worldwide. This is a day of justice for those who have suffered as a result of terrorism perpetrated by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda."
Osama Bin Laden was widely known to be the leader of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, an Islamic militant group. But Kılıç emphasized that the Muslim community in no way identifies with Bin Laden, and that he does not represent followers of Islam.
"He did not represent Islam or Muslims. He wasn't somebody who was voted or elected by mainstream Muslims. It's just somebody who rose to the world stage by certain acts of violence or terrorism and that gained him notoriety but he doesn't represent Muslims, he just happened to be a Muslim, a famous Muslim if you will. For what he's done and for what he preached he in no way represented the majority of Muslims."
And while Bin Laden’s death has inspired a hope for an imminent end to American military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, CAIR recognizes that the battles are not yet over.
"There's still a big struggle ahead for our troops, especially those in harms way to combat extremism and terrorism and also a struggle and a challenge for not only the American Muslim community but Muslims worldwide who have to challenge extremism and fringe groups such as Al Qaeda plus there are many Muslims who were victims at the hands of Al Qaeda. Actually 98 percent of the people that were killed by Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were...happened to be Muslims."
While many Muslims around the world rejoice the death of Bin Laden, Kılıç says there is still concern that American foreign policy could incite adverse reaction from extremists unless it is more deeply examined.
"What we've done in Guantanamo and around the world or every move that we make can also make extremism, make terrorists and create other battles for us. I think we really need to examine our principles and how we relate to the rest of the world. This should be a new beginning, if you will. We have captured Osama bin Laden, we've killed him but we really need to reassess our foreign policy, I guess, when it is regarding to the war on terror and war and different conflicts around the world."
Kılıç praised Obama for leading the US much like past President Theodore Roosevelt, who, “spoke with a soft voice, but carried a big stick.” He praised Obama’s firm yet solemn reaction to the killing Bin Laden.
"Obama was very careful to justify the kill and capture of Osama yesterday in his announcement but at the same time didn't go past to almost, like, gloat because he realized that that would put our nation at a larger threat following the death of Osama bin Laden but it may make Al Qaeda stronger, who knows. God knows we hope that that's not the case and God forbid that another attack on this country happens like it did on 9/11."
In its press release, CAIR emphasized that it in the press release that it condemns Al Qaeda for killing countless Muslims around the world and that the United States is not at war with Islam.