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LI Muslims applaud bin Laden raid

Tamara Halees, right, manager at Assayad Restaurant prepares

Tamara Halees, right, manager at Assayad Restaurant prepares a carryout order, as a customer watches news of Osama bin Laden's death on television in Dearborn, Mich. (May 2, 2011) Credit: AP

Talat Hamdani of Lake Grove was grateful on two counts when President Barack Obama told the nation Sunday night that the man behind her son's death had met his end.

She was pleased that Osama bin Laden had at last faced justice, and that the president in his speech made a clear distinction between Islam and terror.

"As a Muslim-American, it was a speech that I am very proud that the president made," Hamdani said.

The remains of her son, Salman, 23, a police cadet, were found under the rubble of the north tower months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Bin Laden's death won't bring her son back, she said, but it helps her and other families -- and the country -- to move forward.

"I feel grateful that the president . . . called for unity for all Americans, no matter what part of the world we came from," said Hamdani.

"It took 9 1/2 years to bring him to justice, but there's a sense that the hunt is over and that his evil didn't go unpunished," she said.

Other area Muslims said they felt as if a weight was taken off their shoulders with news of bin Laden's death. They saw the leader of al-Qaida not as a Muslim, but as someone who hijacked their religion.

"We have been victimized by this man, twice -- directly because of the killings of innocent people and also because he used the name of Islam," said Shaik Ubaid, co-chairman of the New York Chapter of the Muslim Peace Coalition. "He has single-handedly been providing ammunition for Islamophobia."

Pronouncements by local and national Muslim groups Monday had a recurrent theme about bin Laden's demise: good riddance.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group in Washington, issued a statement joining "our fellow citizens in welcoming" the news, and stressing that "bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam."

The Islamic Center of Long Island said in its statement that its members are hopeful that bin Laden's fall would curtail radical extremism.

"His crimes were against all humanity," it said.

Zeshan Hamid, vice president of the Pakistani-American Association of Long Island, said: "He talked about Islam, but he was not a Muslim. He was a murderer. We are all happy that justice was served."

There were no tears shed for bin Laden among men who prayed Monday afternoon at the Islamic Center's Westbury mosque.

"This is very good and a big achievement," said Dr. Afzal K. Scheikh, 64, a cardiologist from Glen Head. "In our religion to kill innocents is a big, big sin."

Mohammed Khan, a real estate broker from Albertson, was blunt: "If you kill as many people as he did, you are not worth much and you are garbage. Garbage."

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