“We are very happy to hear the news that he has been eliminated,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News.
“This man is not a Muslim. This man has killed more Muslims than Americans – tens of thousands of people,” Siblani said.
“People are very excited that this happened because they want this sad chapter to be closed. They understand more than anyone else how much damage this man has done to the Muslim world and to the Arab world.”
Dearborn is home to one of the largest concentrations of Arab and Muslim Americans in the United States, and acutely felt the anger unleashed against Muslims in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks.
Down Warren Avenue – Dearborn’s main drag – Monthir Alsaid, who operates a shop selling phone cards and disposable phones, hoped President Barack Obama will next take out Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as he watched the frantic television coverage.
Hope for improved relations
“We should smash them all like the cockroaches they are,” he said.
At Hookah Town, a few doors away, owner Nick Sobh said he hoped bin Laden’s death would improve his waterpipe cafe business. “After September 11, a lot of things went bad and business slowed down,” he said. “Maybe now, things will get better.”
“I am very happy. Bin Laden was making Muslims look bad. Muslims aren’t like that. We don’t mistreat anybody,” said a hopeful Salah Allamoth, shopping at the Arabian Meat Market.
Community leaders greeted the news with a sigh of relief, but cautioned residents to remain on their guard against a potential al-Qaeda backlash.
“We have reached a very important goal, but the struggle continues,” Siblani said. “There are extremists out there that want to do us harm – all of us. We are going to be vigilant and we’re going to report anything that is suspicious.”
Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was also happy to see “justice served”.
“Anyone who views Osama bin Laden as some type of holy martyr is severely misguided,” said Walid. “There is nothing holy or righteous about what bin Laden represented.”
Walid said he hoped bin Laden’s elimination will help the United States heal from the terrible scars of the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3 000 people, but cautioned against “euphoria”.
“We’re satisfied that justice was served, but it’s still a sober moment for our country,” Walid added.
Bin Laden’s death also won’t be enough to get rid of the Islamophobia and paranoia that has infected the United States and led to an erosion of civil liberties, Walid said.
In Los Angeles, Muslims and Jews joined together to welcome bin Laden’s death, but warned against celebrating.
“In our community most people are relieved that we don’t have to deal with bin Laden any more. He’s a major source of negative stereotyping about Islam and Muslims,” said Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Never the voice of Islam
Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Centre meanwhile welcomed the fact that “another man of evil, another unspeakable evil person has been removed from the world”.
“But in no way will I be dancing in the streets over this. While human nature perhaps is to seek revenge and to gloat, our religious tradition calls us to raise ourselves up, to be in a more God-like place,” he added.
“Osama bin Laden never was and never should be the voice of Islam.”
Meanwhile, Yasmeen Saad, lunching with her 3-year-old daughter in Dearborn, recalled the atmosphere of suspicion after the 2001 attacks.
“It made me feel unsafe and unhappy,” she said. “His death at this point feels anti-climatic – but I’m glad it’s over.”- AFP