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Arab Youth Respond to Osama bin Laden's Death | The Nation

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Arab Youth Respond to Osama bin Laden's Death

The death of Osama bin Laden is surely a game-changer. But to what degree? Arab youth activists respond to his death, addressing how he impacted their lives over the years and what sort of questions his death raises for the region.

This an excerpt from a piece in The Next Great Generation. For the full article, click here.

What’s your response to the death of Osama bin Laden?

It’s always affirmative of the higher values one believes in to see someone guilty of cold-bloodedly killing thousands of innocent human beings finally brought to justice. But I can’t help but wonder when—or rather whether—those who are directly responsible for similar atrocities committed in the name of fighting him [Osama Bin Laden] will be held accountable and face the consequences of their actions one day. Maybe then should we be allowed to announce “justice for all”?

What did he mean to you? Has his life affected or influenced your life in any way?

Being an Arab Muslim, my life has no doubt been highly influenced by him. His ideology not only altered the way we are viewed, but also the way we see ourselves. Seeing the full half of the glass, I believe the internal discussion it triggered will be a step in the right direction, with Arabs and Muslims taking this chance to reinvent themselves and eradicate the underlying reasons that made his emergence possible in the first place.

Do you think Bin Laden’s death will change the relationship between the West and the Arab world?

I can’t think of a reason why it should bring about any significant changes. Al-Qaeda will not cease to exist over night, and I don’t see the war on terror as a whole ending in the near future. I believe it would be very naïve to expect his death to change anything in the global political landscape, including the relationship between the US, EU and the Arab world.

Alaa Alkiaini, a 21-year-old student from Amman, Jordan.

What’s your response to the death of Osama bin Laden?

I am so surprised and happy—you can’t even believe how happy I am—you have no idea how hard he made our lives as Arabs after 9/11, the way the world has viewed us. I am so tired of the way the world views us all as Osama bin Ladens, so I hope this view will now end so we can all move forward.

What did he mean to you? Has his life affected or influenced your life in any way?

The life of Osama bin Laden meant living in fear all the time, it meant the risk of being attacked at any moment, at any time—I worked with foreigners in Amman, Jordan, [at a hotel] which made it even riskier. These terrorists hate us Jordanians most because we live more liberal lives and have peace with America and Israel—so we have been at risk and suffered from horrible terrorism ourselves at the hands of these people.

Do you think Bin Laden’s death will change the relationship between the West and the Arab world?

I’m sure this will be great for our relationship with the West—we, as Arab countries, have many resources, not just oil and gas, but also many, many beautiful sights and kind people who want to meet people from the West and share our real culture. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda worked to destroy all of this and make the religion of Islam about terrorism, not peace, and created this big gap between the West and Arab countries. I’m so happy that this could change because I think we both have a lot to share with each other.

Ali Aljehairy, a 22-year-old cyber activist (@Alhejairy) from Manama, Bahrain whose cousin was recently tortured by the regime.

What’s your response to the death of Osama bin Laden?

This wasn’t a big deal for me because he hasn’t meant much recently. He was under house arrest. Besides, I don’t believe that he has been killed—I think that he was already dead, and Obama just announced this to exploit the death for his second presidency term. If this were true, if they really just shot him in the head, why did they say that they threw his body into the sea? Why didn’t they show his body?

What did he mean to you? Has his life affected or influenced your life in any way?

He meant nothing. He was an extreme terrorist who distorted the image of Islam, an extremist who made it very difficult for the rest of the Arabs to have normal good lives. He hasn’t influenced my life at all other than negatively.

Do you think Bin Laden’s death will change the relationship between the West and the Arab world?

I hope that it will change for the better. I hope…

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