On May 2nd, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, CAIR-Chicago, the Mosque Foundation and others, held a press conference following the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. Representatives from these and other Muslim organizations throughout Chicago welcomed the news that justice had been done and hoped that Bin Laden’s elimination would usher in a new of era of peace.
At the press conference, the speakers echoed President Obama’s assertion that Osama Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, and in fact was a mass-murderer of Muslims. CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, stated “Bin Laden never represented Islam and was never seen as a Muslim leader, but unfortunately many people’s understanding of Islam was distorted by the actions of Bin Laden.”
“The elimination of Osama bin Laden has been met with a sense of relief and vindication in the American Muslim community,” said CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab. He added, “We hope Osama bin Laden’s death will result in more peace and that our next steps in terms of foreign policy will work to end the killing of innocents throughout the world.” According to Rehab, in the wake of Bin Laden’s death, the United States has an opportunity to forge relationships with the true representatives of Muslim countries: the young people risking their lives to establish democracy and freedom in their nations. While Osama bin Laden only represented a fringe group of political extremists, grassroots movements for democracy in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria have been widespread and deeply popular.
Many of the speakers expressed hope that Osama bin Laden’s death will mark the end of the conflicts and the intolerance that arose in his wake. President of the United African Organization, Alie Kabba, stated “We hope that with the death of Bin Laden we can move forward to create a more just society, tolerant of different faiths, in which we as Muslims will be viewed as a vital part of the social fabric of [the United States].”
Additional speakers at the conference included Kiran Ansari, Amal Ali, Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Aaron Siebert-Llera,and Mazen Asbahi all of CIOGC, Oussama Jammal of the Mosque Foundation, Rizwan Kadir of MCC Full Time School, among others.