Muslim Americans see bin Laden’s death as start of new chapter

For Muslims in the United States, life has been divided into two distinct eras: before Sept. 11, 2001, when most Americans weren’t particularly aware of Islam, and afterward, when many began associating their faith with terrorism. If you were an American who also happened to be Muslim, inhabiting both identities could sometimes feel perilous.

So when the news broke, via Twitter, Facebook, e-mails and phone calls, that al-Qaeda’s mastermind had been eliminated, many Muslim Americans let out a collective sigh of relief.

“Osama bin Laden never represented our community, Islam or Muslims,” said Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

On Monday, the leaders of several prominent Muslim American organizations hailed bin Laden’s death, saying they hoped it would remove what one called the “sexy face” of terrorism for young radicals and allow the United States’ relations with Muslim nations to stop revolving around the issue of terrorism.

However, some still doubted that bin Laden’s demise would alter negative stereotypes about Muslims in the United States.