Friday, 6 May 2011


When I watched Sky News announcing death of “head of the snake of terror” (as one presenter put it) during the early hours of Monday I remembered two sensitive stories ten years ago. It was after September Eleven and the whole world was still in shock; nearly 3,000 dead in New York including the 19 hijackers. Few moments after one of this (most publicised) event in history a man wearing a turban targeted by an angry mob in the USA was badly beaten up. Mistaken for a Taliban activist he was in fact, a Sikh. 
File:Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, India.jpg

Since then various Sikhs have been assaulted randomly in various cities of the USA. While these attacks have more to do with ignorance and racism we all know it has a psychological connection to Al Qaeda and the man who was killed by US military forces early this week.
Since Monday all sorts of statements have been made by political leaders and media columnists. The one I found slightly naive was that “the world is a better place without Osama Bin Laden.”
 What are the conditions that created an individual like Osama Bin Laden?  Why did Osama bin Laden become a terrorist?  Has it to do with Islam or with something more profound than religion and a rebellious, prodigal son of a multi-millionaire Saudi Arabian?
Speaking of religion let us hear our second tale.
The story circulated around the African community in London soon after September Eleven.  The lady had arrived as a refugee in early 1990’s. Having got her residential visa she got involved with a fellow African and within months became pregnant. Although the relationship eventually faded out the woman now with a healthy looking baby boy decided to raise him single-handedly. Like various females who raise children alone the mother of Omar Abdilatif ( as the boy was known), somehow managed. According to latest official figures almost 24 percent of children live with a single parent in the UK. This is three times more than forty years ago, the statisticians allege. It means divorce and breakdown of traditional family life has been increasing...
So Omar Abdilatif was growing up in London, rarely seeing his father (who had other kids with other women) and eventually attending school.
Formal education was however, uncomfortable as he was teased and bullied that he had no daddy. That his mother was a poor immigrant who could not read, write or speak English properly. Then it got worse.
The euphoria surrounding the aftermath of September Eleven meant hatred for Muslims was growing. This misconstruction of a real situation always means the innocent are caught in the cross fire.
Omar Abdilatif was taunted by other children because of his name. That Omar was Osama. He must be related to the Talibans and Terrorists they whispered and chanted in the school’s playground. The seven year old boy was sleeping badly; peed in his bed and had nightmares. He developed a skin condition called Eczema. His mother was getting worried. She consulted doctors and pondered.
A radical change was decided. She moved her son from the school and changed his name. He was now Stephen and no longer a Muslim. She herself became a born again Christian.
“Too much trouble being a Muslim these days...” she told friends.
Such statements make headline news amongst immigrant communities in the Diaspora.
Osama Bin Laden was killed at a place called Abbotabad in Pakistan. His death said Israeli President, Shimon Peres, does mean end of terrorism. Al Jazeera London bureau chief, Yousri Fouda, who has interviewed Al Qaeda leaders several times also, said death of Osama Bi Laden does not mean end of the organisation nor their activities.

The root of the Middle East problem which has caused untold suffering in the region and for several decades across the world remains the Palestinian conflict. Over the years this problem has grown wings. It has been entwined with Israel, Arab’s oil and now international religious extremism. Policies and politicians continue to avoid the root cause while millions continue to suffer. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that people like Bin Laden mushroom into icons of destruction. Without addressing this particular issue his death might be applauded but who knows what next? Haven’t we got active organisations like Harakat Al Shabaab in East Africa? Without confronting issues that create suicide bombers this war and hatred on both sides won’t end but just change complexion like snakes and reptiles shedding new skins.


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