journeys at home and abroad
Two public statements today reflected my own unease on hearing of Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan – neither of them were Barack Obama’s. I was glad bin Laden had been found, but sorry that there seemed to be no official regret that he was killed rather than captured.
“Justice has been done”, says Obama. For me, justice involves a fair trial. And this necessitates a sincere attempt at a live arrest. We don’t always manage this in Britain – I was on the recent march against deaths in police custody after Smiley Culture’s death.
Perhaps the celebrations in the USA have something to do with the popularity of the death penalty there – and the presumption that any bin Laden trial would have led to execution.
In the end we always have to talk and sort conflicts out the hard way – and eventually we’ll need to do this with those who support Al-Qaeda. It’s not easy – the process is still under way in Northern Ireland. We need to “be the change we want to see”, as Gandhi said.
Am I just naïvely squeamish? Would an expensive and security-intensive trial have been impossible? Did Nuremberg only work because the defendants were the vanquished?
The trials of those accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia have not yet finished – Ratko Mladic is still at large. I cannot imagine the victims or the victims’ families building a future there without the bedrock of a meticulous judicial system and for the stories to be told. As Canon David Porter says in his blog, we need to tell our stories, our histories, to each other – and renegotiate them in the re-telling, generation by generation.
The Muslim Council of Britain released this statement.
Few will mourn the reported death of Osama bin Laden, least of all Muslims. Many Muslims will reflect on the ten years that have passed in which our faith and our community have been seen through the prism of terrorism and security. The Muslim Council of Britain has consistently stood firm against terrorism and violence, and will continue to do so. His extremism has been responsible for the deaths of many people, including many Muslims around the world. The actions of his movement which have no basis in the teachings of Islam have led to the pursuit of unjust wars and untold suffering.
Today our thoughts must be with the families of all those who suffered in the terrorist attacks around the world as well as of thousands of innocent lives lost in the wars against terrorism. It is unfortunate that his assassination has deprived them of the opportunity to see him brought to justice in the court of law.
Al-Qaeda’s ability to sow discord and mistrust between Muslims and others has caused untold damage. We must restore our belief in human dignity and peace by ensuring that we stand firm against all forms of hatred, injustices and violence.
The Vatican released this via Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office.
Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.
Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.
Ameen and amen to both of these.