Reacting to the death of Osama bin Laden, Muslim women’s rights activist Daisy Khan is “extremely grateful to President Obama and all those who were instrumental in the demise of this man, and the precision with which they conducted this entire operation.”
They could have used a drone and decimated the entire compound, she says—“It would have been done so much easier.” But instead the operation was carried out with “thoughtful care” to minimize casualties.
Khan’s relief was tempered with alarm about where bin Laden was living. “Every Pakistani I know is in shock and disbelief that he could have maintained a home in such plain sight within a very fortified . . . what looked like a retirement community for the armed forces. But it also shows that there are deep divisions within Pakistani society as to how to treat people like Osama bin Laden and clearly, clearly somebody was supporting his being there.”
Since the summer of 2010 Khan and her husband, the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, have been heaped with both praise and scorn for their attempt to build an Islamic community center two blocks north of ground zero.
As soon as the news broke of bin Laden’s death, Khan reached out via e-mail to some of the 9/11 families with whom she has been consulting about how best to move forward with the interfaith center the couple now hopes to build. She says she has also been talking with the families, and with contacts in the Muslim and interfaith community, “to see what we can do [for] the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s something we’re committed to doing jointly.”
Khan is hopeful that the death of bin Laden is sign that “the footprint of extremists and terrorists all over the world is fading,” and that the recent uprisings in the Middle East are “a clear indication that the Muslim world, the Arab world, is rejecting violence [and] wants to usher in an era of freedom, justice and the rule of law.”
She also hopes bin Laden’s death will help ease tensions here in the U.S. “Some of the overreaction that we have seen against the Muslim community all of last year was an indication of this unresolved anger that people felt because justice had not prevailed,” she says. “And now that it has, and the mastermind has been killed, we feel that we are now standing on equal footing with all Americans and we want to rebuild this nation. We want to rebuild the world.”
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