The Biggest Story of 2011 for Me? Bagging Bin Laden

2011 may be remembered as a year of revolutions and counter revolutions in the Middle East, but perhaps the most significant event of this tumultuous and eventful year was the capture and death of arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden.

As champion of the most radical strain within Islam, his death marked a new beginning in the quest for global peace through a war on terrorist networks. The jubilation in Washington, D.C. over his death was an obvious indication of the relief felt by Americans. But it may also spell complacency among the masses, that all is now right with the world's struggle against radical Islam.

Osama's agenda included sowing seeds of hatred among Muslim youth. In so doing, Al-Qaida's villainous leader was merely upholding a fundamentalist ideology that is endemic to political Islam. Its tenets include the pursuit of militant jihad. This hateful ideology has poisoned the minds of enough number of people who would gladly sacrifice their lives for some "higher purpose" that fetches rewards in a hereafter.

The effects of Bin Laden's legacy are pernicious enough to have spurred a climate of warring religiosities. The world had come closer to forging a clearer understanding of human rights, universal brotherhood, and dignity of all peoples--men and women, black and white, rich and poor. After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the desegregation of the American south, the formation of regional and national peace alliances, the world appeared to be moving toward more tolerance, egalitarianism, and pluralism. Sadly, however, the most retrogressive form of radical Islam has gained considerable momentum in the past few years as a geopolitical force.

One can only lament this backward march toward bigotry, fanaticism, militancy, and elitism. Even peace-loving Muslims who reject the hateful agenda of radical Islam are often victims of such intolerance.

These adversarial religiosities ought to have been a thing of the past, for the world was making progress toward tolerance and understanding. But the warring religiosities are once again resurgent. They have even surfaced in the much touted "Arab Spring."

One would not be wrong to suggest that the Arab spring has turned into a bleak winter for beleaguered non-Muslim communities living in Muslim majority lands. Attacks on Christians in Egypt are a classic example of this unfortunate development.

To top it all, one cannot criticize or question the ideologies that breed such fanaticism. Attempts to throttle free speech by the Organization of Islamic Conference and other fundamentalist outfits are effectively under way. The culture of hate and bigotry that Osama created has permeated the grassroots. Though he is dead, his ghost lurks in all the recent terrorist attacks, the sectarian violence and the religious strife internationally. His death was significant. So is his legacy.

Follow Farzana Hassan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@FarzanaHassan1

Send questions or comments to Farzana Hassan