While the Independence Day weekend was a perfect time to remember and celebrate national heroes, one California resident took the opportunity to wax eloquent over an unexpected idol – Osama bin Laden.
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In a letter titled "If the Americans Have Their Heroes, We Have Ours," published in Friday's edition of London's Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, California resident Muhammad Amin Salameh, an Arab-American, wrote the following, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute:
- To the Editor: Blessings,
Those Americans and others whom most of the peoples of the world consider war criminals, movies have been made about them … works written about them, celebrations and symposia have been held in their memory, and postage stamps bearing their likenesses and names [have been] issued to commemorate them, glorify them, and keep their memory alive.
All this has been done even though they directly or indirectly murdered tens of thousands, if not millions, of innocents. Among them are those who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945; among them are the generals who waged World War II and participated in the destruction of entire cities in Germany and Japan; among them are those who participated in and waged the dirty war in Vietnam and killed or caused the annihilation of hundreds of thousands of innocents, defenseless women, children, and elderly; among them are those who killed or caused the killing of our brothers in Iraq in the dirty Gulf War of 1991. Some are the backbone of the present American administration – for example Vice President Dick Cheney, who was secretary of defense at that time.
Despite all this, the Arabs and Muslims find themselves in a bind in this era, because if they consider a particular person one of our heroes in this era, they are criticized because America sees [that person] as a terrorist. It is true that our history is full of heroes and mighty men, but what about our generation?
If truth be told, our generation is overflowing with heroes and mighty men – some of them known among the Arab and Islamic peoples, some less well-known, and some familiar only to a small minority.
Every Palestinian killed in one of the martyrdom operations is a hero; every Palestinian killed resisting the enemy [Israeli] forces is, in the eyes of some, a hero; all those who fought the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Afghans and others, are heroes; all those who fight America these days in Afghanistan and in other places are also heroes in the eyes of some; all those who refused to submit to the dictates of the Americans and sacrifice their rule – for example Mullah Muhammad Omar and the Taliban – are heroes in the eyes of their people and their supporters. Anyone who rises up against American arrogance and tyranny and causes the Americans fear and trembling are also heroes, in the eyes of some.
Sheikh Osama bin Laden, who preferred Jihad and life in the mountains and caves to the pleasures of [this] transitory world ... although he is a wealthy man, the son of wealthy men – is one of our noble heroes whom history and generations to come will recognize as restoring honor to this [Islamic] nation. No one can monopolize history or distort the truth all the time. It is my right as an Arab and a Muslim to choose my hero, as the Americans choose theirs.
Therefore I say to them, in the loudest possible voice, that Osama bin Laden is my hero of this generation.