Attacks alter view of Islam

Anna Holland

Osama bin Laden called Americans “sinners” in a statement released after the United States and Great Britain launched attacks on Afghanistan Sunday morning.

“America was hit by God in one of its softest spots,” bin Laden said in a tape carried by Al-Jazeera, an Arabic satellite channel, according to the Associated Press. “America is full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.”

Bin Laden is the man many claim as the mastermind behind the attack on New York and Washington, D.C. a month ago.

“Our nation has been tasting fear, hate and injustices for hundreds of years,” bin Laden said. “Millions of innocent children are being killed in Iraq and in Palestine, and we don’t hear a word from the infidels. We don’t hear a raised voice.

“When the sword falls on the United States, they cry for their children and they cry for their people,” bin Laden said. “The least you can say about these people is that they are sinners. They have helped evil triumph over good.”

Mansoor Khadir, president of the Muslim Student Association, said bin Laden’s statement “alters the perception of Islam.”

“It’s disappointing [bin Laden] says things like that,” he said. “Islam condemns all forms of violence. We feel deep sorrow for the American people.”

Khadir, freshman in pre-business, said bin Laden has “an extreme and fundamentalist view” of Islam.

He also said the vast majority of Muslims will neither follow bin Laden nor support his actions.

“People who share his anger will support him,” Khadir said.

Robert Baum, associate professor of religious studies, said Muslims “have no reason to support bin Laden.”

“The religion involves a quest for God and peace,” he said.

Baum said rallying the support of Muslims will wrongly present the front of a war on Islam.

“It’s not a war about Islam,” Baum said.

“It’s a war about terrorism. But bin Laden would prefer to present it . [as] a movement of a billion people instead of a few terrorists.”

Baum said 4 to 6 million Muslims live in the United States.

He said the vast majority of Muslims do not share bin Laden’s views that the United States is a threat to their religion.

“I think many have differences with America, but they look for peaceful ways to resolve it,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.