Arab reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden

“Arab reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden is only in its infancy less than 48 hours after President Obama announced the event itself to the world. To draw conclusions about how the strike will impact US-Arab relations or the future of Islamist terrorist groups would be premature. However three major Arab media reactions have appeared thus far in response to the strike on Osama bin Laden.

1) Reaction is not monolithic. “The Arabs” have a diverse range of opinions on the strike, as do their editorialists.

2) Osama Bin Laden is widely seen as a symbol rather than a threat. Editorials across the political spectrum discuss Osama Bin Laden’s role as a symbol which the US used to prosecute the War on Terror. This is a critical difference from the Western media, who portray Bin Laden as a “terrorist mastermind.”

3) The strike evokes a fear of American power. Many editorials are cynical about the way in which the US used Osama Bin Laden as an excuse to prosecute the War on Terror. At the heart of this cynicism is a fear of the ease and impunity with which the US executed the strike.

The Arab media largely does not support Bin Laden, but they hesitate to commend the use of American power which was required to kill him. While necessary, the force used in the strike was something out of an action movie. For some Arabs, this hearkens back to the cowboy-ish rhetoric and policies of the Bush administration, evoking fear and a mistrust of the West.

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