Monday, May 2, 2011

Real Victory Over Bin Laden? Peace

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior reporter
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- Is 2011 the year of bringing down bad leaders? I’m guessing yes.
Reading the big bright headline “Osama bin Laden is Dead” at 6 a.m. this morning left me a little shaken.I thought maybe after school and some sleep the news would start to sink and I would form solid thoughts on the issue.
I was wrong. I am nowhere different now, mentally, than I was before brushing my teeth.
The thought I am certain of, though, is that the death of the leader of Al Qaeda is in no way the death of the Al Qaeda.So for the many people tweeting on OBL’s hash tag -- “A prince gets married, the bad guy is dead. It's a real Disney weekend here on earth” -- bad news, this is no happily ever after.
As for the people in the United States congratulating each other, I understand they have lost thousands of troops in the wars raged to find and kill bin Laden, not even counting the victims of 9/11.
At the same time, however, as a friend of mine pointed out, former U.S. President George W. Bush killed more people than bin Laden. Will he get shot in the head in his mansion, too?
If that were to happen, would people, mostly in the Middle East, who had their families killed, also celebrate without being criticized?
Nevertheless, I know many people both in and outside the U.S. who find the idea of celebrating someone’s death absolutely horrifying.
However, I am very indifferent about the death of the person himself.
On 9/11, I was watching Timon and Pumba, a cartoon whose theme song is “Hakuna Matata.” That means “no worries.”
As a third grader in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, my life was then no longer without worries.
Everyone was affected by 9/11, to say the least, even if it was small as losing my favorite teacher, Mrs. Erica, an American at my then-international school who never came back after the attacks.
This bothered me much more than the bombing of my compound and the spread of army forces in the city of my childhood.
Sometimes I can’t believe it has been 10 years – a decade of hatred from both sides of the conflict. Ten years of a growing Islamophobia, and nonsense terms like Islamist and the labeling of Arabs and Muslims as terror-loving extremists because of the dreadful acts of a specific group.
I hope with the death of bin Laden comes a victory different than the one envisioned for America.
A real victory would be to banish all that built up hatred, because that in fact is the real and most present enemy.
Yes, the Hitler of our modern world is now gone, but the destruction his group and supporters have left behind will take much more than a well-planned U.S. operation to take down.
Though I’ve spoken to people who wonder if bin Laden is really dead or if this is just another U.S. tactic, I don’t really see that as likely. What would be the purpose? To get President Barack Obama reelected?
As skeptical as I’d like to be about the news, I think it’s the real deal.
My concern now is this: a man such as bin Laden has loyal supporters, the kind that are heartless murderers.
Is there anyone else out there thinking this could really backfire?
It’s hard to take in, but a revenge attack is surely soon to come somewhere. I hate just thinking about more killings in the name of religion, but I can’t help worrying.
Finally, I hoped I could write in a more formal tone, but an event like this stirs the child in me, whose fear of monsters turned into fear of loud noises and armed military men.
I am sick of weapons, I am sick of violence. And I am sick of militants and even the word militant.
Revolution in the Arab world used to be seen as a naïve dream, but look at Tunisia and my beautiful country Egypt now.
I like to think a global revolution against all violence and all groups that aim to terrorize anyone in any way is imminent.
I strongly hope that people start to demand, now more than ever, to bring home the troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and also to end the wars there for good.
Naïve? Maybe.
It is a shame that as nations strive for freedom and finally break away from their dictators there will still be countries that would put interests before people’s rights to freedom and justice (free, cough, Palestine, cough).
As for the people who have been in a coma and missed the developments in recent months throughout the Arab world, take a deep breath.
We’re still trying to figure out what in the world is going on.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective. Your writing echoes a lot of what I feel inside too, sitting on the other side of the world. And even though I'm 35, the child comes out in me as well, and I turn away from the glorification of any death, even that of a killer. In certain ways, I want to keep being naive if it means keeping peace at the forefront of my mind as the ultimate good.