MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 May) – How does one bury an enemy? The question takes center stage after reports came out that the US buried Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at sea. Muslim clerics and scholars argued that what the US did wasn’t in keeping with Islamic practices. President Obama retorted that the maritime burial was respectful compared to the way bin Laden treated the 3,000 victims of 9/11.
Such is the power of bin Laden. Even the way his body was sent to its final resting place has sparked a controversy and debate that the US must deal with. Add to that the contentious decision of the White House to withhold the photos taken after the raid. Obama said releasing the photos won’t serve national security interest. Down there in his less than Arthurian burial place bin Laden must be amused despite having reached the wrong side of Avalon.
How could his soul not possibly rejoice? Given the outrage the manner of his burial has generated among many Muslims the White House must be wondering now if it did the right thing in denying bin Laden’s family and supporters the chance to give him the last rites befitting his status as a symbol of anti-West resistance, or simply as a servant of Islam, regardless of how he interpreted the teachings of his faith. The story has not ended with his death.
The failure of the US to put an immediate closure to the bin Laden saga could only mean one thing: there is more to fighting terrorism than eliminating its leaders and infrastructure. Killing bin Laden mainly accomplished vindictive justice that has somehow eased the pains of the 9/11 victims’ families and friends. But questions remain whether it has healed the wounds of the attack and all things related to it.
Such wounds run deep. And these are hardly seen – and felt. Moreover, these are old wounds, older than bin Laden and his Al Qaeda and may last for God knows how much longer. These can be felt if one stops and asks why many Muslims, those in the Philippines included, would bother to go out in the streets and protest the way he was buried despite the nasty connotation his acts had attached to Islam.
Do we really believe that the Muslims are marching and demanding the recovery of bin Laden’s body just because they think their religion has been desecrated? Given the kind of person that he was, to demand that bin Laden be buried based on Islamic practices appears to be a most convenient reason. I’d like to think however that the real message goes beyond the calls for decent burial for the man, calls that Obama can silence with video footages of the suffering caused by 9/11.
The real message is for the US to reinvent its attitude towards the Muslim world in general. They are telling Obama to depart from the ways of the Bush era, from the very policies that may have led to 9/11 and created monsters like bin Laden.
In this sense, the Muslims may have viewed bin Laden’s undersea burial as a fitting allegory of the way the US has always treated them. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)