POSTED: 3:39 p.m. HST, May 3, 2011
Hawaii's Muslim community was relieved by the news of Osama bin Laden's death but stressed the need for the U.S. to remain vigilant.
"There's always a concern of retaliation from some of his followers," said Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. "We just have to be prepared and fight anyone who would like to cause harm to innocent people."
The death of bin Laden is a monumental achievement in the war against terrorism, Ouansafi said.
However, the family members of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack victims are still grieving along with loved ones of innocent people killed worldwide by al-Qaida, he added. "We don't want to ignore the sentiment of the people that lost loved ones," he said.
"Hawaii Muslims have stood firm and stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks that bin Laden and his group never represented Muslims or Islam, and we continually condemn their evil acts," Ouansafi said. Muslims across the nation suffered discrimination and bigotry after the terrorist attacks.
Ouansafi noted he was pleased that President Barack Obama and special forces treated the body of bin Laden with Islamic respect in his burial at sea. "That to me is the essence of what we as Americans are all about. We do not celebrate the death of an individual per se. … We celebrate the elimination of threats to innocent human beings worldwide."
Hawaii Kai resident Saleem Ahmed said he was first surprised by the decision to bury bin Laden at sea, but soon appreciated the Obama administration's view of the potential of a place of worship being created by followers. "This one chapter has come to an end, but of course many chapters might start. That's what we need to focus on, the next step," he said.