'Osama Bin Laden: The Matyr' Library Is Open For Business In Pakistan, Ugh
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, is being memorialized in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque, an Islamic seminary for women, has decided to rename its library, "Maktbah Usama bin Laden Shaheed - Urdu." Translation: Osama bin Laden, the martyr.
The seminary has stated that the name is meant to pay respect to the deceased terrorist, who the cleric called "our hero." Ugh. And indeed, Bin Laden's commitment to the Wahhabism sect of Islam has, for some, solidified his position as amongst the most dedicated disciples of his religion.
Wahhabism, described as an "austere form of Islam," has been known to breed extremists movements like the Taliban. The strictest practitioners of Wahhabism believe that those who do not agree with their views are "heathens and enemies."
According to an interview of a Saudi Arabian Shi'a Muslim, students are taught that Wahhabis will ascend to heaven, while the "rest," including Jews, Christians, and all others who do not adhere to the Wahhabi faith, are to be persecuted. Though Bin Laden was later condemned by Saudi princes, the motivation behind Bin Laden's acts are rooted in messages that remain in the teachings of extremist sects of Islam today.
Excerpts of textbooks produced by Saudi Arabia's ministry of education for use of middle school students were obtained by PBS in 2000, and while it is unclear how many of these books are still in use, their message is frightening all the same:
The dedication of a new library to Osama Bin Laden seems to speak to a continued adherence to such extremist views, and the seminary's position as a female institution is particularly ironic, given Wahhabi Islam's prejudice against women. In Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia, women are expressly forbidden from operating motor vehicles.
Security and government officials of Pakistan have weighed in on the situation, with security expert Hasan Askari Rizvi calling the library's new name "a huge embarrassment." He went on to say,
Public reaction to the library has also yet to gauged, as the country that once celebrated Bin Laden and largely agreed with his anti-western views has slowly removed him from the national psyche, especially considering the violence inflicted upon the Pakistani people as a result of Taliban wars and American attacks. But even so, ABC News reports that the "slain al-Qaida chief is still regarded as a hero by most students at Islamic schools."
The fate of Bin Laden's library is yet to be known, though it is absolutely certain that the United States will never memorialize its most wanted terrorist in the same way it honors its presidents.