May 2nd, 2011
12:44 PM ET

U.S. Muslims hope bin Laden death will ease pressure

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Asma Hasan, an American Muslim lawyer in Denver, was having dinner with her family when they heard that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Within moments, her phone buzzed.

"A Muslim relative of mine texted and said, 'This is great news, what a relief.' It wasn't celebratory, but 'wow,'" she explained.

Bin Laden changed Hasan's life permanently, she said.

"He is someone who has hurt my country and my religion forever," she said.

And despite her reservations as a lawyer that he was never brought to trial, she said, "If there was ever a justification for this type of action, this was it."

"The world should know that it is not a safe place to be ... a terrorist. I am proud that my country will not stand for this," said Hasan, the author of "Red, White and Muslim."

But she is also conscious that not all Americans see the United States as her country, since she is Muslim.

Bin Laden's jihad against the United States put American Muslims on the defensive, she said.

"We have had to help Americans understand what is going on in the Muslim world, which is so diverse. We have had to bear the brunt of American anger and hurt," she explained.

"We have a strength of faith and have been able to handle it, but we have all become ambassadors of our faith, whether we want to our not," she said.

"It's 10 years later and people still question us," she said.

"I don't think the death of Osama will change that," she predicted. "It's a good achievement for American Muslims, but I don't think the pressure will let up."

Eggs were thrown at an Anaheim, California, nightclub the night of bin Laden's death, hitting club owner Mohammed El Khatib.

An Arab-American businessman got proof of that even as he was celebrating the death of bin Laden.

Eggs were thrown at Fusion Ultra Lounge in Anaheim, California, hitting its owner, Mohammed El Khatib.

The irony is that El Khatib served in the American armed forces, and his first thoughts were of them when he heard they got bin Laden.

American Muslims felt no sympathy for bin Laden, El Khatib said: "We're not part of him. We're happy that he's dead. We're happy that he's gone."

An American Muslim umbrella organization also welcomed the news that the al Qaeda figurehead had been "eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world."

"Bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide," the Council on American Islamic Relations said in a statement.

The former imam of a controversial Muslim community center scheduled for lower Manhattan called the death of bin Laden a turning point not just for the world, but for American Muslims in particular.

"That wound (from September 11, 2001) has never quite healed," said Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, formerly of Park51.

"The killing of Osama bin Laden is a major milestone," he said, expressing "the sense that there is a sense of healing beginning to take place."

Asma Hasan hopes so.

Looking to celebrate bin Laden's death in Denver, she and her brother drove past the state Capitol after hearing the news.

They saw seven people waving flags, so they honked their horns, pumped their fists and shouted "USA!" Hasan said.

But they didn't stop, and they didn't announce their religion.

I wonder if I had rolled the window down and said, 'I am a Muslim and I am happy that the war on terror is succeeding,' what their reaction would have been," she wondered. "I don't know what they would have said."

CNN's Ted Rowlands and Ali Velshi contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Muslim • Osama bin Laden

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