Times of India
NEW DELHI, May 5: From incredulity to hostility towards the US - reactions of Indian Muslim organisations changed rapidly as it became clear that the news of Osama bin Laden's death in a CIA operation in Abbottabad in Pakistan was not American propaganda.

Muslim religious leaders, cutting across sectarian divisions, questioned the America-propounded description of the al-Qaida leader as a terrorist, asking what judicial procedures had been followed to pronounce him as one. There was, however, obvious unease at the fact that he had been found to be living in Pakistan and had been killed in an US operation on Pakistani soil.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Imam of Jama Masjid, objected to Osama being called a terrorist.

"When did any court of law in the world convict Bin Laden of terrorist activities? It is only America's assertion and that of Nato that he was one. Why should we believe them.

"As for the government of India's reactions, I would want to know their views on what is happening in Palestine even now when thousands of Muslims are being killed by Israel with US help. The killing (of Osama) in a continuation of US interference in Libya, Iraq and Palestine."

Maulana Arshad Madani, president of one faction of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, also disagreed that Osama was a terrorist.

"I do not believe he indulged in terrorism. The question to be asked is why did US come into Afghanistan in the first place? Who created Osama? Americans did to exterminate the Russians. Now that their need has been fulfilled, they term Osama, who was at one point their best friend, a terrorist. It is symptomatic of the American way of functioning of their constant use and throw policy with countries and people."

The Indian Muslim establishment initially reacted with incredulity to the news of Osama's death, citing US operations in Tora Bora as a precedent where claims of his killing had later been proved false.

It took statements from home minister P Chidambaram and Pakistani MP Sherry Rehman to convince them of the veracity of these reports, after which prominent Muslim leaders said Osama was a one-time American ally with whom relations had soured because he had lost his utility which was to tackle the Russians in Afghanistan.


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