The Muslim Association of Hamilton hopes the death of Osama bin Laden will introduce a new era of peace and co-operation after a transformative decade of war and terror consumed the global community.
“This is an opportunity for countries to come together,” said Kamran Bhatti, a spokesperson for MAH, the largest Muslim organization in Hamilton.
“Communities need to work together and develop that sea of tolerance that has been found in Canada, and Hamilton.”
Although there is a “real fear” groups that supported bin Laden’s view of the world could retaliate after a U.S.-backed assault that killed the 54-year-old mastermind of the World Trade Center attack, Hussein Hamdini said his death could usher in a “new era” in global relations and change the direction of the U.S.-led war on terror.
“This gives us an opening to work together for a new direction,” said Hamdini, also of the MAH.
The MAH announced it “welcomed” the news of bin Laden’s death, saying he was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people, including Muslims.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death May 1. He said a small group of Navy Seals killed him at a compound in Pakistan.
Hamdini said he understood the celebratory attitude the American people demonstrated after hearing of bin Laden’s death because the U.S. government, since Sept. 11, 2001, has been “fixated” on security and “getting” bin Laden.
For 10 years bin Laden avoided capture by the U.S.
“(The cheers) are expected,” he said. “It’s part of their closure.”
Bhatti said the celebratory attitude about bin Laden’s death is difficult in the face of the deaths that he contributed to.
“Should I be celebrating?” he said. “That’s tough. You are talking about a criminal.
We welcome bin Laden’s death. But we also look to our troops in Afghanistan, who have suffered. And you look at the families that have suffered as well.”
The Hamilton community also experienced an immediate impact of 9/11, he pointed out. Soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, vandals fire-bombed the Hindu Samaj Temple on Hamilton Mountain. Hamilton’s community leaders immediately voiced their opposition to the attack and eventually the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion was formed.
There were 24 Canadians killed in the 9/11 attack, which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people. There has also been 154 members of the Canadian Armed Forces killed in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002.
“(Bin laden) has a lot of blood on his hands,” said Hamdani.
He pointed out many people in the Arab world have left bin Laden’s beliefs behind.
The democratic uprisings in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia showed the world that Muslims want democracy, civil liberties and freedom.
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Hamdani.
“Arabs were fighting and dying for democracy, and not for bin Laden.”
There is a real possibility there could be a response to bin Laden’s death, said Hamdani.