By Jennie Phipps (AFP)
DEARBORN, Michigan — Arab and Muslim Americans have celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden, saying justice has been served, but remain wary of Al-Qaeda reprisals, with the scars of 9/11 still running deep.
“We are very happy to hear the news that he has been eliminated,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News.
“People are very excited that this happened, because they want this sad chapter to be closed,” Siblani told AFP on Monday.
“They understand more than anyone else how much damage this man has done to the Muslim world and to the Arab world.”
Dearborn is home to one of the largest concentrations of Arab and Muslim Americans in the United States, and acutely felt the anger unleashed against Muslims in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Down Warren Avenue — Dearborn’s main drag — Monthir Alsaid, who runs a shop selling phone cards and disposable phones, said he hoped President Barack Obama would now take out Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.
“We should smash them all like the cockroaches they are,” he said.
Others, like Yasmeen Saad, lunching with her three-year-old daughter in Dearborn, recalled the atmosphere of suspicion after the 2001 attacks.
“It made me feel unsafe and unhappy,” she said. “His death at this point feels anti-climatic — but I’m glad it’s over.”
Some were hopeful that bin Laden’s death would ease tensions.
“I am very happy. Bin Laden was making Muslims look bad,” said Salah Allamoth, shopping at the Arabian Meat Market.
Community leaders greeted the news with a sigh of relief, but cautioned residents to remain on their guard against a potential Al-Qaeda backlash.
“We have reached a very important goal, but the struggle continues,” said the Arab American News’ Siblani.
“There are extremists out there that want to do us harm — all of us. We are going to be vigilant and we’re going to report anything that is suspicious.”
Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was also happy to see “justice served.”
“Anyone who views Osama bin Laden as some type of holy martyr is severely misguided,” said Walid. “There is nothing holy or righteous about what bin Laden represented.”
Walid said he hoped bin Laden’s elimination will help the United States heal from the terrible scars of the 2001 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, but cautioned against “euphoria.”
“We’re satisfied that justice was served, but it’s still a sober moment for our country,” Walid added.