Hoping for peace amid all the pain

Philadelphia police are paying special attention to mosques and synagogues in the area, following the death of Osama bin Laden.

At the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society building in Philadelphia, about a dozen women gathered Monday around a table full of food to celebrate the end of two semesters of studying English. While they were there to reflect on the classes, they were also talking about the news of bin Laden’s death.

One woman in a head scarf who declined to give her name said she was troubled by the fact that the body was put in the water.

“Throw him in the ocean? You know. He deserves what you call a proper burial,” she said about the news bin Laden’s body had been buried at sea. “That’s the only question I’m asking … he’s a human being.”

The woman said she thinks his family should have had a say in his burial.

Sarah Merusi, who supervises the English classes, said the group had been discussing bin Laden’s death.

“We were just talking about it and not one person said anything (with) anger or wrath or anything,” said Merusi. “We’re just talking about a human being that was murdered and it’s sad because we’re all humans in this world and what’s in the past is in the past.”

“We’re just trying to create a positive connection to the Muslim community and trying not to connect it to that issue,” she added.

Abdur Rahman, the principal of Al-Aqsa Islamic Academy, stopped by to pick up a plate of food.

“I’m very happy that they got bin-Laden,” he said. “He’s a very, very bad man. He’s created a lot of trouble, he’s destroyed millions, he’s ruined Islam in the eyes of the world, he’s hurt hundreds of thousands of people in all kinds of ways. He’s pure evil.”

“He was a good man at one time, but then he went crazy and he’s hurt us, he’s hurt us badly so now we have a reputation all over the world thanks to one man’s craziness,” Rahman said.

Sitting at the far end of the table, a woman from Jordan who wore a black headscarf said simply, “I hope peace for everybody. That’s it.”

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