In the U.S., Osama bin Laden’s killing by Navy Seals has brought celebrations and feelings of victory and justice. But the al-Qaeda leader’s demise likely holds more media impact than real-life significance. While he remains an important symbol to some, his global relevance diminished long before his death.
In the Middle East, news of bin Laden’s end came mostly with a whimper. The reaction has largely been ambivalence and even indifference. Yes, there are groups mourning and honoring him: Hamas’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya , condemned the “assassination” and prayed bin Laden’s soul would rest in peace, and an ex-Hezbollah chief, Sheikh Sobhi al-Tufayli, was quoted as mourning the al-Qaeda leader’s demise. Others in the region, as elsewhere, have questioned whether his death is real.
Overall, an understated sense of good riddance prevails. Across the Middle East, students, shopkeepers and people on the streets have been dismissive of the news. Bin Laden’s narrative of grievance and victimization feels more remote than ever today as Arabs seek to grab hold of their future.