Initial reaction

We have BBC Radio 3 play in the morning, which means I didn’t check the news until I got into the office. In fact, it was seeing a comment on facebook that made me switch over to BBC News.

Mixed feelings for my part. It’s good that Osama bin Laden was found. It’s a pity he couldn’t have been brought to trial. It’s concerning the amount of… jubilation there is at the news of one man’s death. It’s unsettling how the U.S. sent an operation within another country’s borders without informing that country what it was doing. I understand the reason given why, but does that make it right? Does the end justify the means? It’s curious that people are demanding to see the body, even though that was the first thing that crossed my mind, too: skepticism wanting proof. But a body is not a trophy. To have an Islamic burial he would have to be buried as soon as possible. How we treat our dead sets us apart as humans. He may have been an enemy, but vengeance should not be allowed to corrupt justice.

The men and women who carried out this operation demonstrated great courage and strength, and I commend them for that. I am more concerned about our reactions to this news, and what happens next.

Finding out so many hours after the fact, since President Obama made the announcement at 4.30 AM BST, makes me feel all the more detached from the news. Ever more clearly I find that no matter what is on the news, no matter what happens in the world, the world keeps spinning. The question is how we move forward.

As for me, right now that means saying an extra prayer for my friends in the Middle East, and continuing my research on Melusine.

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5 thoughts on “Initial reaction

  1. Sarah says:


    I thought the same about a body…they did DNA testing and then "buried" him at sea, according to the news I read.

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  2. Rebecca says:

    I’m not worried that Bin Laden was buried quickly; Islamic burial customs demand burial within 24 hours, though previously the US has held bodies of Islamic dead for a week and a half. But the burial at sea is bound to raise some eyebrows, surely, since interment on land is preferred. I’m not quite sure why that decision was taken, since it seems likely to be interpreted as an act of gross disrespect.

    I haven’t enjoyed hearing responses from Americans on the news, nor did I enjoy hearing a reaction from one British woman who must have lost her son either in war or in a terrorist attack (I didn’t catch which): ‘I hope he died a long drawn-out death’ was the sentiment. But I’m sure that comments were chosen by news editors for interest and to confirm prejudices rather than as representative of a broad spectrum of opinion.

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  3. Chera says:

    Yes, that he was buried at sea certainly raised my eyebrows. I did read that sometimes a body could be buried at sea if there was concern that the body might be dug up and mutilated — however, I doubt that was the prevailing reason in this case. But I was disgruntled when one of the BBC presenters said that bin Laden’s body ‘had been disposed of at sea’. I thought that was a poor choice of words on his part.

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  4. Rebecca says:

    Oh, I’m sure there’s been reporting of various shades of bias on the matter. But that’s a given, really, isn’t it?
    I’m not really sure why the body was transported to the USS Carl Vinson *after* DNA testing had confirmed identity. It seems that the transferral to the aircraft carrier was made only to ensure that the body couldn’t be buried on land so that there was no chance of it becoming a shrine. That’s not acceptable under Islamic custom. Nor am I convinced that a muslim performed the rites, as would also be required. It just seems like a single, small blunder in what would otherwise be a great triumph.
    I just heard someone on the news talk about his wife, who died on 9/11. He was sure that in heaven she was smiling and feeling a sense of satisfaction as he knew that God would have tossed Bin Laden’s soul into the depths of hell. That disgruntled me!

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  5. Chera says:

    I think we all agree that the handling of his body was a mistake. And yes, reporting will have various shades of bias, but I’ve come to expect actual news from the BBC, not commentary. I simply think the reporter in question used a poor choice of words at that moment!

    The last person’s comment you mentioned also makes me uneasy. As Christians, we aren’t supposed to rejoice over any soul being damned, no matter who they are. Granted, that is a very high and probably impossible thing to ask of any of us, but it should make us hesitate before making statements like that.

    Someone I know posted Proverbs 24.17-18, and I found it a good thing to remember:

    ‘Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
    or the LORD will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.’

    Alternatively, I, like some others I’ve found, hope that this latest piece of news will sufficiently undermine the arguments that insist that Obama is secretly an Al-Qaeda sympathiser, etc. etc.

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