Muslims in the Triangle applauded Osama bin Laden's demise with a sense of long-awaited justice Monday, welcoming an end to the al-Qaida leader's violent take on their faith.
They hoped for healing of the wounds opened a decade ago following the Sept. 11 attacks, both for his victims and the nation that sometimes mistakenly linked terrorism with Islam.
"I'm glad they finally got him," said Dr. Mir Mumtaz Ali, leader of Johnston County's only mosque, in Selma. "We are like any other Americans. This is totally unacceptable what these guys do in the name of religion."
A few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 700 people crowded into the Islamic Center of Raleigh for congregational prayer.
But the private Muslim school adjoining the center closed due to safety concerns, having received threatening phone calls only a few hours after two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center.
Around that time at Duke University, a hushed crowd of about 2,500 people at an interdenominational memorial service applauded when a rabbi urged listeners to embrace people of all faiths - especially Islam.
Moe Elgamal, chairman of the Triangle-based Muslim American Public Affairs Council, warned that prejudice, like the threat of terror attacks, will continue beyond bin Laden's death.
"The prejudice (against) the entire Muslim community because of the actions of a few is an ongoing process," he said. "As Muslims, we have repeatedly said we are against violence. It takes some effort to educate people."
But bin Laden's death, he said, counts as a huge victory for the principles that make America attractive to Muslims and any other citizen.
"It is a reminder to those who are trying to hurt us, as Americans," he said. "They must know we will be vigilant in our pursuit and bring them to justice."
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