By Thanzila Khatun
I heard about the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death through a text from a friend who happened to be awake at 4.00am (it’s how the young folk roll apparently. I wouldn’t know I was sleeping like the premature old person I am). I must admit, I didn’t flinch or react at all to the news. In fact, my reaction was aimed at her – “what on earth are you doing awake at 4.00am in the morning?!”, to which she promptly replied, “being shocked by the death of Bin Laden!”
Am I the only one who didn’t really care that much? It’s not that I supported his violent, malicious, misguided and self-serving actions; in fact I loathed him for hijacking Islam, parading a hateful image of it and its followers, and successfully presenting it to the world as ‘true’ Islam. It’s just that I hadn’t heard anything about him for so long and then suddenly there he is, staring me in the face from every direction – figuratively, of course – the man’s dead. Unless you count all the newspapers splashing his friendly face across their front pages. It’s like when your partner moves away for a few years to pursue their career, and by the time they return, you’ve moved on and have nothing in common anymore. You want to care, but you can’t even muster up a feigned, ‘so, how was the weather?’
I know Bin Laden was one of the most wanted men in the world and there have been people tracking him for ages, but it hasn’t exactly been front page news. And rightly so, after all I can’t imagine it would have been very interesting trying to report failed attempts; ‘we’ve spotted OBL down by that mountain! Wait… no, no, just a billy goat. Just to confirm, not Bin Laden, billy goat.’ (By the way, that is exactly how these operations go down.) Therefore, you’ll have to forgive me for not giving a rat’s… butt.
My point is, people are acting like he had been the most imminent threat to their lives and now that he is dead, they can go about living their lives fear free. I am certain that none of the people who were jubilantly waving their American flags patriotically around Ground Zero gave a seconds thought to the comings and goings of Bin Laden one moment before his death. Yet these are the people most ferociously relieved, as if, had the US forces not killed him there and then, he would have killed them instead – so direct and immediate threat averted everyone. Cue huge, cumulative sigh of relief.
Fact is that Bin Laden had lost a huge portion of his legitimacy among the Muslim world due to the recent Arab spring. Once he had been found, why was he not put through a proper trial? Now people are revelling in conspiracy theories as to the circumstances surrounding his death, and I feel apathetic about it. I would have engaged with the issue more had he been put to justice in the way any other criminal would have. His assassination just feels too easy a way out for him. Honestly, I would have preferred he do his time in a grotty cell and hopefully think of the thousands of people who have been killed under his disgusting regime.
So actually, maybe this isn’t apathy. I feel duped! Duped out of seeing a man brought to justice for his filthy crimes, and facing an appropriate sentence accordingly. I’m not calling for a Saddam-esque execution by any means, I’m not sick. But surely this would have appeased the masses, still giving Obama the popularity points he needs for his re-election campaign, and justice would have prevailed.
But instead we have this strange, all pervasive feeling of relief emanating from the general public who seem to think he was the source of all evil in the world, as if now things can get back to being happy and colourful as in Teletubby land. But it was never like that was it? Maybe it’s just me, but everything was kind of crappy before Bin Laden, during Bin Laden and after Bin Laden. Actually, since Bin Laden’s death, the terror alert has been heightened so why exactly are we so relieved?
I’ll be frank, it was never Osama Bin Laden or Al-Qaida I was scared of prior to his death, nor am I scared of the remaining tyrants who will be keen to carry on his contemptible, ignoble legacy. Call me self absorbed, but I’m afraid of infinitely more terrifying things: I’m afraid I might lose my job due to economic difficulties; I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford the water bill next month; I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay back my tuition fees; I’m afraid the degree I received in exchange for those tuition fees has no more value; I’m afraid I don’t have the option to go back to my first love of education due to the expense; I’m afraid of my local library closing down; I’m afraid my elderly folks won’t have anyone to take care of them when I’m no longer able to; I’m afraid of the government we have ‘representing’ us for which not one person in Britain voted; and above all, I’m afraid at my powerlessness to affect all of the above.
But hey, as long as Osama Bin Laden, aka Mr. Scapegoat, is gone, what do I possibly have to worry about? Ding dong, the Bin is dead.
Thanzila Khatun is a King’s College London graduate in English Language and Literature. She is the Sub-editor for Culture at The Platform.
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