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Muslim students say bin Laden not the face of Islam

Mohamed Soltan loves football and drinks coffee in the morning. He says he’s as American as anyone, but some tend to disagree because he identifies himself as a Muslim.

His car was vandalized and his house was egged. His tires were slashed and his mailbox was broken. He is almost always, coincidentally of course, randomly stopped at airport security, and almost every time he hosts a party with his group of male, Muslim friends, he notices others staring.

“All of my neighbors think I’m a terrorist,” he said. “It looks like my house is this base for terrorism.”

Soltan was born in Egypt and moved to the U.S. when he was 10 or 11 years old, he said.

Now a fifth-year in economics, Soltan said he was relieved to learn of Osama bin Laden’s death on May 1 and thinks it is going to be a safer world.

“It’s a glorious, momentous day that he’s gone and we’ve finally cut off the head of the snake,” he said. “Now we have to work together to defeat terrorism.”

Soltan does not consider bin Laden a Muslim leader. Instead, he agrees with President Barack Obama, and considers him a mass murderer of Muslims.

Although some in the world associate all Muslims with the terrorist, it’s not an accurate depiction, he said.

“Osama bin Laden represents one billion Muslims, and I don’t think he shared the views of 0.1 percent,” Soltan said.

Jana Al-Akhras, a Muslim and first-year in international studies, was born in the U.S. but considers herself Palestinian. She agrees that many Americans have an inaccurate perception of bin Laden’s association with Muslims.

People should be smart enough to separate one man from an entire place, she said.

“I don’t consider him the face of the Middle East, the religions there or the people,” she said. “There is such a miniscule minority that believes in what he has said.”

Al-Akhras felt mixed emotions over the announcement, she said. While she said she doesn’t feel comfortable celebrating death, she is relieved that someone who hijacked the country is dead.

She said she hopes his capture and death will be an incentive for the U.S. to step out of Afghanistan.

“People have suffered enough,” she said. “This is one of the longest and most costly wars.”

The Afghan people have especially suffered, she added. Although Americans have been affected, thousands of Afghans continue to endure violence.

“They’re in constant fear and their economy is shot,” she said.

Lina Al-Khatib, a Muslim and first-year in journalism, has also lived in the U.S. her entire life and was born to Palestinian parents, she said. While she shared the sentiment of relief over bin Laden’s death, she said it’s important to think about what’s next.

“He was just a figurehead,” she said. “He wasn’t the whole war on terrorism. There’s more to it.”

 

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