|The end of Osama Bin Laden|
The announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the militant religious group – Al Qaeda was greeted with loud applause by the American Public, many who went to the Capital to display their patriotic response. Of all counts, Osama, deserved it, for he had preached violence and died by the very sword he had preached. He had left a trail of terrorist destruction in the Middle East and the US. The end of Osama could have possibly saved the presidency of President Obama.
Osama had railed against the support of Israel by the Americans and the presence of Americans in Saudi Arabia no doubt bitter by the rejection of the Saudi royalty in the 90s of his plan to mobilize against the Iraqi invasion. He died a bitter man, rejected by his family, exiled from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, ending up hiding in Tora Bora in Afghanistan as guests of the Islamic Taleban regime.
When death seems near in the early 2002s cornered by the Americans at Tora Bora after the 9/11 where he had brought down the twin towers in a spectacular display of terrorism and violence, he wrote his will where he apologized to his children for not spending time with them, and asked them not to follow his “Jihad” footsteps. Somehow he had managed to slip into Pakistan and death had to wait.
Osama Bin Laden despite his religious zealousness was not a model of family values – he has more than one wife, some say four or five wives, and had many children as fodder for future foot soldiers for his army. The Christian Right in America has obviously failed to deliver their message of marriage between one man and one woman as their religious foundation so proclaimed at the recent Manhattan declaration. This is surprising since both faiths have many shared conservative religious values.
Pakistan, a country of 150 million a country steeped in conservative religious fundamentalism seemed perturbed at the death of Osama Bin Laden. There were no celebrations in the street. Rather, we see the amazing sight of big protests by religious clerics, some weeping bitterly at American’s transgression for violating the sovereignty of Pakistan for carrying out the raid. The truth is that despite some proclaiming certain religions as “religions of peace and love”, the underlying reality and sympathies is complex and Osama had many supporters of his religious cause.
In the latest news, there is continuing demonstration by religious groups in Pakistan, lifting up the banner with Osama’s picture whilst burning the American flag. They have lost their “hero” who has come to define terror, violence, and bigotry.
Osama was found hidden not in the many caves bordering Afghanistan protected by fundamentalist religious tribes, nor was he protected by the Taliban, the religious rulers who once ruled Afganistan before the American invasion after 9/11. He was found where he was least likely (some say most likely to be) in a Pakistan military town, close to a major military centre. The Pakistan Intelligence vary of criticism of collusion protested that they have informed the Americans of the suspicious site, but why didn’t the Pakistanis themselves raid the site?
Perhaps, Abbottabad, a city nestled in the foothills of the mountains was a perfect hiding place. No one would suspect the most wanted man hiding in a military city. It was a retirement city known for having many outsiders with large houses. There was a no question asked culture as much of the money was obtained in rather suspicious manner through the drug trade in nearby Afghanistan. Osama’s home blended in with the rest, the high walls and barbed wired no different than many other homes.
Yahoo news Financial commentary was quick to ask the question whether hunting down Osama was worth the 1.8 trillion and 4300 troops killed? in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was definitely not worth the money. However, blaming Osama for the self initiated war against WMD in Iraq is changing history. The former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Similarly, the Taliban, the religious fundamentalist formers rulers of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 except that they did not want to hand-over Osama and wanted to protect him at the Tora Bora mountains.
There is a call for the war to end in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the death of Osama Bin Laden. But the war against Al-Qaeda because of 9/11 had spread to a regional war against religious groups operating in Iraq and Afghanistan many of them unrelated to Al-Qaeda. Such religious conservatives advocate for harsh religious rule which severely restrict the basic rights of the individual despite some calling these religions, a religion of peace and love. One can no doubt remember the thousands of gays hanged in Iran, a country ruled by religious fundamentalist, nor the many living in hiding in Palestine which is now ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. The issue is no longer about war, or even a clash of culture, it has become a stand against religious extremism which has become prevalent and mainstream.
Yet, this is no reason to continue the wars except for the lack of an exit strategy. How does one get out of Afghanistan without leaving the nation at the mercies of the Taliban? Iraq was a war that America should not have entered in the first place and now fanned by the hotbed of religious fighters supported by Iran? That said, having a cruel and hate based religious faith is a freedom of choice but not one’s sexual orientation. The Americans should leave and not fight a battle that does not belong to them now that Osama has left the scene.
(Luke 6:27 NKJV) "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
(Luke 6:28 NKJV) "bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
(Luke 6:29 NKJV) "To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.
Osama Bin Laden did change America in a profound manner. The way we respond changes us. The way America responded by invading Afghanistan, and Iraq is not Christian. Despite the many in Washington influenced by the Christian Right to go after gay marriages and basic gay rights, it was a non issue compared to how America was changing as a nation becoming more legalistic, revengeful, and self righteous. Even the invasion of Iraq was defended as righteous when no weapons of destruction were found.
The change came from a nation of God’s grace and mercy to a hardened people, vary and quick to judge and response in kind, an eye for an eye, for the proud nation was deeply humbled and hurt by 9/11. The audacity of the terrorist acts in the name of religion stunned many. Once we start on a vengeful path, we go beyond an eye for an eye, our appetite for justice beyond what was done to us.
Less than 3,000 were killed in 9/11. Yet, more than 4,000 soldiers were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq many against those not even directly involved in 9/11. The humanitarian toll in Iraq is tragic – more than half a million is said to perish directly or indirectly. The bible calls us not to respond in kind because we would never stop and often go far too far in our retaliation and in doing so looses our own credibility.
(Luke 6:32 NKJV) "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Following 9/11 and at the start of the Iraqi invasion, in the Benny Hinn’s program “This is your day”, published a video showing the American carrier group going to war with the background music “Onward Christian Soldiers”!. We should have instead negotiated for peace and not respond in kind. By responding in kind, it shows that our Christianity, our Christian love is no better than the love of this world, which is the love for ourselves and our own people rather than the love for others.
If we had responded with God’s grace and mercy to the 9/11 attacks (not by making sweeping statement about whether a religion is about peace and love) but with concrete actions showing love in the midst of being hurt – that would be a testimony about the love of Christ in our hearts. In responding in kind and even worst responding many times over what was done to us, it has become a negative testimony.
There are some who calls for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which should have ended a long time ago, and in the case of Iraq should have never been started or even justified in the name of 9/11. The death of Osama heightens this calling. Yet, with so much harm and damage being done, so much more than the destruction of 9/11, there is possibly no ending in sight.
The world had changed for the worst since 9/11, and “true” Christians can and must play a part by showing God’s grace and mercy in loving even though harmed (Luke 6:32), and not to be too quick to judge or condemn (Luke 6:37), for what we sow is often what we reap (Luke 6:38) and when we start a crusade we end up having a crusade against us.
In the battle by the Christian Right against GLBT in US and the world, how should we respond? We can respond with God’s grace and mercy, not to retaliate with hate or lying rhetoric, for ultimately by our response, the battle is won and lost. There will be justice at the end against the grave harm perpetrated by the Christian Right over the last 500 years against gays but we are not God to proclaim vengeance. We are only called to love, to show God’s grace and mercy because of Christ in our lives, and never to hate nor cause harm.