The death of Osama bin Laden has brought out a range of emotions in people, including some cheerleading that many are finding inappropriate.
So it comes as little surprise that in the wake of the news, another reaction is coming out of the woodwork — a renewed showing of threats against American Muslims.
As a precaution, many cities went on heightened alert, adding additional security to public areas in anticipation of potential retaliatory attacks. No actions were reported in that arena, but in Minnesota a report of hate mail at an Islamic center made the news instead.
“I think there’s going to be a short period of time where we’re not going to be as safe,” said Meri Ayoub, who has been a secretary for the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley for 10 years. “The words, ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ are back in the media, and they have polarized people again.”
Ayoub said she wasn’t surprised to arrive at work Monday to find five hate emails in reaction to Bin Laden’s death. One of the emails, with the subject line of “Bin Laden,” said, “I know that the USA will defeat the Muslims worldwide and on our own soil … death to Mohammad and to Islam!”
Overall, American Muslims are being hopeful that the tension surrounding them will abate as time passes.
Muhammad Cheab says he hopes that now Americans will see Muslims in a new light. “We’re good American citizens,” he says. “We pay our taxes and live like everyone else does and we’re proud to live here.”
Cheab hopes bin Laden’s death will take the heat off Muslims here. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who stepped into controversy by trying to locate a mosque near ground zero, believes it will do just that.
“I think that this is a turning point,” he says. “There’s still an enormous amount of work to be done. But there’s no doubt, in the American perception this has helped a lot to bring closure.”
Will the death of bin Laden mean that the country’s growing Islamophobia may come to an end? Or is it still expected to be the centerpoint of the conservative reelection campaign in 2012?