Last night, I received a text message that appeared to read “Obama killed in Islo.” Confused (What would Barack Obama be doing in “Islo” a k a Islamabad, Pakistan?), slightly freaked out (I am a pacifist, after all) and extremely blurry in vision (from laser eye surgery from a few days ago) I struggled to reread.
I had misread.
The message actually read Osama. Within seconds of having paused the Hindi movie I’d been watching and getting on to Twitter, it was confirmed that Osama bin Laden had in fact been killed in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
As we all tuned in to watch President Obama give a live, dramatic address to confirm bin Laden’s death, for many Muslims the world over, including myself, it was a charged and emotional moment.
As a Pakistani student living in the West, with roots heavily embedded in my cultural and religious heritage, many questions permeated the silence in my living room at that moment. What was Pakistan’s role in all of this? Will the president differentiate between fundamentalist Islam and the religion of Islam of which I adhere? Was there collateral damage? Will I get through airport security more easily now? Why does Obama pronounce Pakistan more correctly than most of my Pakistani-American friends?
Even though I anticipate answers and clarity in the upcoming hours and days there are some things of which I am certain.
To echo the sentiments expressed by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the elimination of Bin Laden as a threat to American and global security is welcome news. And now that the world’s most prolonged game of hide and seek has come to a close—albeit after nearly ten years, billions of dollars and millions of lives lost—many of us tonight might finally dare to hope and dream for some semblance of peace.
And as I watch all-American, 20-something Caucasian males fist-pump and chest-bump one another outside the White House lawns in celebration, I hope and pray that we are on the road to changing this past decade’s master narrative of the “Global War on Terror.”
In his address tonight President Obama reminded us of the grief and horror brought upon by 9/11. He echoed the need for unity and resilience as a nation.
Yet even though we find relief in the taking down of a murderer today, let us not forget that much remains to be said and done in the name of peace and stability the world over. Our thoughts and solidarity continue with those fighting for their universal rights in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria.