U.S. Muslims hope for better days after bin Laden
Many U.S. Muslims were as relieved as most Americans to hear of Osama bin Laden’s death, though they feared the stigma attached to their community since the September 11 attacks will not disappear so quickly. U.S. Muslims have grown frustrated that their condemnations of bin Laden and al Qaeda have gone unheard as some Americans associate Islam with his message of violent jihad.
“It has been a nightmare to try to constantly explain to ordinary Americans that we are not associated with bin Laden. We have tried very hard to convince people that Muslims are not one monolithic group standing behind this monster,” said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. “We were also victims of bin Laden’s ideology of hate,” he said. “The man hijacked our religion, committed crimes in the name of our religion and caused the greatest damage to the American Muslim community and Islam.”
Musri and some other Muslim leaders said bin Laden’s killing Monday by U.S. forces in Pakistan gave American Muslims and other Americans an opportunity to correct misunderstandings and bridge differences. “Muslims … continue to be victims in the growth of Islamophobia here, so the taking out of bin Laden, certainly at a symbolic level, in the short-term, takes the pressure off,” said John Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University.
There are up to 7 million Muslims in the United States and many have felt the sting of being unfairly lumped in with Arab Muslims who plotted and carried out the deadly 2011 attacks.