Muslims hope for greater understanding

May 2, 2011 3:18:57 PM PDT
Many Muslims in Chicago say after years of battling the hatred Osama bin Laden inspired, they are relieved the terrorist is dead.

While the faithful do not celebrate death, there is joy in justice. Many Pakistani Americans are also grateful to be rid of bin Laden.

"I always thought that he was dead because nobody knew. Nobody had any proof that he was alive or dead, and i think they just caught him at the right time," Tariq Baig said Monday at Shan's Restaurant.

"My first thought, 'Oh, this is the end. Thank god that this has happened,'" Neelum Baig said.

"If I had my way I would have rather seen him here, brought alive and ut to trial like a common criminal mass murderer that he was and sentenced to prison for the rest of his life. But I don't think that was possible," Ahmed Fazil said.

Many patrons at Shans Restaurant come for the authentic Pakistani cuisine and have friends and relative in Pakistan. Some hope the death of bin Laden will allow America to pull back military forces.

"I don't see any reason now to be there, personally. That's my opinion. Americans are losing lives, too," Faisal Sabir said.

At a press conference of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, members expressed a desire for a military action to be cut back.

"Let us put also put an end to the wars that we've started because of this man," said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Council of Islamic Organization.

Many council members blame bin Laden for much of the anti- Islam sentiment. They hope his end will begin a new chapter of openness of understanding.

"We feel an immense sense of relief. Osama bin Laden was a messenger of hate, an ideologue who distorted religion for political purposes," Mazen Asbahi, Council of Islamic Organizations, said.

"We are optimistic. We're looking forward to a better day in which we can cooperate together for better justice," Ahmed Rehab, of CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] Chicago, said.

"The strength of America is not in our weapons. It is in our values," Alie Kabba, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said.

The Muslim community urges continued vigilance as bin Laden followers may be tempted to retaliate. Retaliation is a real fear for Pakistani Americans. They fear his death may make life more dangerous for Pakistanis -- who have already been dealing with violence from extremists.