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Muslims in the Boston area are welcoming the news of Osama bin Laden's death with a mixture of relief and appreciation toward the president and military. Many of them are speaking of the pain bin Laden inflicted on all Muslims by killing innocent people in the name of their religion.
At the call to prayer at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury on Monday, 43 men and four women in an adjoining room bowed on the floor in prostration, part of their collective praising of God. On this day, Atif Harden said there was no mention of the death of bin Laden.
"There was no prayer of thanks that this has taken place?" I asked Harden. "No, not one way or the other. He's not in our world. He's really not in our world."
My faith very clearly says you do not kill innocent people. What this guy did has always offended me personally as a Muslim. And I believe honestly if you do things against the Quran, you get what you deserve.Atif Harden, Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
Still, Harden, the center's director of institutional advancement, said he felt a "gut reaction of relief" at hearing the news.
"My faith very clearly says you do not kill innocent people," he said. "In warfare, we can't even kill trees. What this guy did has always offended me personally as a Muslim. And I believe honestly if you do things against the Quran, you get what you deserve."
Among those praying alongside Harden was Abdillahi Abdirahman, a Somali-American. He said he's annoyed at always being asked for reaction to bin Laden and terrorism just because of his faith. He hopes the frequent discrimination he faces as a Muslim will ease up now.
"You are a Muslim and you do the right thing. You get up every day. You're American, you follow the rules. And then still, I'm labeled," Abdirahman said.
Imam Talal Eid came to the U.S. from Lebanon 30 years ago. He said bin Laden changed the world for Muslims.
"We used to look at hard liners as only hard liners, not to the degree of killing and murdering innocent people," Eid said.
Eid, founder of the Islamic Institute of Boston, is also a chaplain at Brandeis University and some Boston hospitals. He said many of his fellow Muslims now share in his conviction: "This is someone who was responsible for the death of thousands of people. So justice was done. Chapter is closed."
Back in Roxbury, Harden said the theme of "this chapter" isn't lost on him: the end of bin Laden comes amidst the Arab Spring, where peaceful change has prevailed.
"Osama bin Laden tried his ways of terrorism, intimidation. It didn't work," Harden said. "He got nowhere with it."
This program aired on May 3, 2011.
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