I will not dance on Osama bin Laden’s grave

Published: May 8, 2011

When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider.

When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider. When everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider.

I have been in the US for the past two years and in this time I have felt culture shock twice – the first, when I first arrived, and then again on the night of May 2, 2011.

Any supporter of peace would feel nothing but hatred for Bin Laden and his organisation, and I do hate him or I thought I did. But, Sunday night when everyone was out on the streets celebrating, chanting “USA” and firing fireworks, I felt like an outsider. I couldn’t join in – partly because it still felt wrong and partly because I realised instantly that any possible backlash from this was going to affect my country.

But above all, what I realised was that I couldn’t celebrate death.

I challenged myself to think of one person whose death would bring me to the point of happiness and celebration – no one.

My grandmother has been a victim of attempted murder twice. I would not celebrate if the people responsible were to die. I would only be relieved if they were behind bars. I would not feel happiness, instead I would be devastated if someone were to harm Terry Jones or anyone of the people who attempted to burn the Holy Quran or depict our beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh). This is because hate solves nothing, especially hate of the highest order, hate that can bring you to rejoice the end of a life. All hate does is provoke anger, and anger solves nothing. It is the simple fact that it angers Muslims when these lunatics disrespect our religion that causes them to do it again. They like making us angry; their purpose is to make us react.

Martin Luther King Junior said:

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I was there in utter shock and confusion when on the morning of September 12, 2001 our sixth grade teacher in school in Islamabad asked everyone what the “hot” news was, with a smirk. My shock turned into bedazzlement when all the students mentioned the terrorist attacks in New York City with excitement. I was there when they showed people celebrating the attacks on the streets. I was there when people of the same age and education as me celebrated the death of the governor of Punjab, and I was there when people celebrated the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Today, I am proud to say that I took part in none of these celebrations.

The death of life should not bring joy, even if it is that of a murderer. This is because publicly celebrating death only instigates revenge. It does no good. Not only that, for a human being to celebrate the death of another human being is violating the very purpose of us being human in the first place. Being human means you have the power of choice and the ability to make that choice and return love in the face of hate.

I have absolutely no sympathy or respect for Osama Bin Laden or any person who kills other people. I can feel the pain of every person affected by September 11, 2001 and I can completely understand why they would feel the need to celebrate the end of Bin Laden. But, what I still feel is that people let emotions control themselves for the lack of a better act.

The celebration of death is only the first step for someone from the other side justifying more acts of terror, and somewhere I feel someone needs to stop this cycle. I agree that this was much needed closure for many, many people, but why not take this opportunity to instead mourn the lives of the countless people who have fallen victim to the direct impact or backlash of the things Osama did. It’s because in celebration, we take emotional revenge, and even Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said not to seek revenge or speak ill of the dead and said:

“all actions are judged by the motive prompting them.”

Abu Bakr Agha

Abu Bakr Agha

A software engineer, musician, writer and activist from Islamabad, currently based in Chicago. He tweets @AB_Agha (twitter.com/AB_Agha)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Raza

    AbuBakr Agha.! My friend how Noble of you to make such a fabulous point. Yes we as human beings shall not celebrate it coz it brings out the devil in us and in this case dead are never dead to until they are forgotten.
    We should forget the miseries caused by person because of whom many died innocently. The neutralization must suffice for those who were affected directly or indirectly.

    I would also like to appreciate that your composition is very consistent not incoherent.
    It not what I call wannabe style. 5/5

  • http://nil saleem khan

    Can you just do one correction about the Martin Luther Kind Jr statement, Please see the below;


  • Nurmomad

    Sadly, I think Americans or other victims of terrorism are not the only only ones to be blamed for the “celebrations”.

    Reason 1. The so-called “Mujahids” feel happy and “blessed” after killing innocent people, just because they don’t believe in their religion. They think their reward for the butchery is “paradise” and rejoice for their deeds, “congratulating” each other

    Reason 2: The “pious Jihadis” slaughter people with knives, chanting God is Great, as if celebrating His Grace

    Reason 3: They Jihadist mentality makes an icon of bigot murderers. Look at the “celebrations” in Pakistan by certain quarters after assassination of Governor Punjab!! What was the showering of petals?

    I think both kinds of “celebrations” are against human values and both need to be condemned.Recommend

  • http://www.thehrdesigns.com Hassan Raza

    I have a Japanese Friend “MIka” and here what she said to me:

    “I can’t understand why many American people are celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden.I think if someone is dead,I don’t feel good.Am I strange??”Recommend

  • http://memonammar.blogspot.com Ammar

    Great Post Mr. Agha. World should not celebrate indeed. Specially we Muslims must refrain from the celebration because his position was ambiguous. Neither we can pronounce him hero nor terrorist. Recommend

  • http://none Mukhtar Ahmed

    Excellent Article.

    Something i have been looking for so long to see, and we desperately need to promote these thoughts.

    Its all about your state of existence.

    Excellent approach. I appreciate the concern.


    Mukhtar AhmedRecommend

  • 007

    agreed….death should “never” be celebrated!! but people like terry pastor need to be brought to justice.. its not a matter of happiness or sadness, its blatant disrespect to Islam which cannot be tolerated! Recommend

  • Kumail

    The quote of Martin Luther King, Jr. which is so viral nowadays is partially fake. Please see the following from Time magazine:

    This goes on to show we accept and repeat everything we see, without thinking about it and researching about it.. Recommend

  • :(

    You made me realize a lot of things..Recommend

  • Amna

    I feel the same way….great article.

    I also think, a lot of Pakistanis feel the stronger they show hate for Bin Laden, and happier they act at hearing of his death, the more peaceful and anti-terrorism it makes them look. Its like it is for the “liberals”…if you have a slightly different idea of what should be done about the terrorism issue, you are automatically pro-taliban and extremismRecommend

  • Nobody

    Very well said, and nicely written! I too have to OCCASIONALLY remind myself never to celebrate the death of even scumbags like Bin Laden and the like. When I first heard about it on Sunday, I initially felt a rush of delight and wanted to ‘celebrate’ the news (although I was hit with a mix of emotions after realizing WHERE he was killed), but I later was happy I didn’t because I’d only be disappointed in myself. Hate begets hate and violence begets violence. While I truly do think the world is better off without people like OBL, I don’t ever want to lose myself in the wave of celebrations, because personally I don’t think I’m a better person for showing happiness over someone’s death (or execution), even a hate-mongering monster! Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Apart from sloppy punctuation, this post has nothing wrong in it. I am growing out to be a fan of yours, AbuBakr. Surprisingly, I did not find anything incoherent in it.Recommend

  • Nasr Ali

    I’m so sharing this. Great work.Recommend

  • Sania

    This almost made me cry.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    @Saad Durrani:

    Blame the editors. Next time i’ll just add a “P.S: Don’t post this if you’re going to edit it”

    What kind of editors RUIN your punctuation :(Recommend

  • Fahad

    You’ve got a fan in me.Recommend

  • Anon.

    @Saad Durrani:
    Kind of sad you couldn’t stop yourself from indirectly dissing the writer.Recommend

  • Repulsed

    @Saad Durrani:
    This is a great piece – I find your comment insulting. (even though the writer chose to respond with an insult of his own).
    I feel so many readers here on ET expect the content to be inane or intellectual. There is an in between. Most of us live there.
    Saying things like “Surprisingly, I couldm’t find anything incoherent” – lacks class and grace. These kind of backhanded comments suit politicians and scheming aunties more than anyone who wants to participate in a real dialogue.

    Maybe next time they shouldn’tRecommend

  • Abu Bakr

    I wrote it differently from how they posted it. My grammar and punctuation were correct, on this they’re not. I think I’m entitled to say they’re not doing they’re job properly. The same thing happened with the first 2 posts, but they fixed their mistakes when i emailed them about them. You’re not much different than how you describe Mr. Saad Durrani in that last line of yours. Recommend

  • Saim

    I know a lot of more people who complain about ET editing. You’re not alone buddy. Great article despite any mistakes :)Recommend

  • Repulsed

    @ Abu Bakr Agha
    Please go ahead and point out their mistakes You should. But as a writer I would think you would choose your words a little more carefully – especially on a public forum.

    My last sentence was very genuine – as I feel professionalism dictates that any “threats” that you wish to make should not be made in public.

    I reiterate – well written, great piece. Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    Great piece AB. Totally agree with what you wrote. Hope common sense prevails one day. Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    To me this is still a blog, even in the comments, and i will use it to express myself in any way i see fit. I don’t see why i have to be ‘professional’, but i really don’t want to stretch this. You make a lot of sense, but i disagree completely, respectfully. Recommend

  • Nabeel

    Sir. Great job again!Recommend

  • Spogmay Sardar

    I like the way you perceived this issue. Its true he was a human being in the end. Hate is not the solution to anything, no matter how filmy it may sound, love can takeover hatred. There just need to be a little patience. Thats all.Recommend

  • Faria Syed

    Thanks for your feedback Abu Bakr. Loved the post.


  • Disco Molvi

    I hope we can also show similar restrain on celebrating the day Salman Rushdie dies.Recommend

  • Imaan

    Touching. Truthful. A lot of people need to know this, especially the one’s who have Osama’s picture on their facebook display and who danced around when the Governor was shot.Recommend

  • Hassan

    ET should send this blog to that crazy person Saroop Ijaz who writes in the opinions section and has a wish to dance on OBL’s grave, its great to see such mature views from a young man as opposed to such disgusting views by a so called mature adult and that too a lawyer!!!!!Recommend

  • Kaleem

    Brilliant, brilliant writing. Again.Recommend

  • NO JOY

    @Amna if you have a better option to deal with terrorism,please come out with it.blaming others will not solve this problem.The ideology of Gandhi ,Martin Luthar king and Mandela can defeat the people who have some semblance of conscience left in them,as the British or American were, not those hardcore jehadis who feel that the sole purpose of life is to kill almost everyone under the sky and then die to embrace 72 virgin hoors.you expect a brainwashed jehadi,who doesnt think twice before putting his and many innocents lives to peril,to be treated with compassion.cancer cant be treated with aspirin.desperate circumstances demand desperate remedies…..btw some people ,in the garb of high morality seem to equate Osama with an innocent,halat ka mara ,banda,who was mistreated by yanks.most of the Pakistani commentators,in this news paper site seem not to be disturbed by the fact that a most wanted criminal(a good proportion of them dont consider him a criminal at the first place)was found enjoying a life guarded by their agencies,but they are disturbed by the fact that he was killed in cold blood .people preaching tolerance to US and other anti terror agencies should try this pill on those jehadis.thanksRecommend

  • Asad

    Bravo bro, bravo.Recommend

  • Fawad

    This needs to be shared a million times over. Great blog!Recommend

  • hassan

    People are NOT celebrating death, they are celebrating the victory of good over evil. People are celebrating that they got justice after all those years of waiting.

    People are celebrating that, no matter where a criminal hides, no matter how powerful his friends are, there is always someone who will relentlessly pursue him and will smoke him out from his hole and thus avenge the death of thousands of innocent people.

    The dead guy with a hole in head happens to be your co-religionist and so you are bringing on your sanctimonious spiel, unable to stand the sight of millions of young Americans rejoicing and celebrating !!

    Wait for the day when the young and dynamic Kasab is hanged. The entire India is going to celebrate with fireworks. You can write one more moral high ground post again !!!Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    My friend I share the same feelings. But I think it is a bit late for this now. I am sure everyone who reads this may realize there mistakes, it is now (sadly) a part of belief for many. I am glad to see the response has been positive to your article here but I would be I interested to see the same on the killing of minorities, or better yet sympathing with Ahmadis.

    Hate is a very strong sentiment. As you pointed out it leads to nothing but anger and shame, but in Pakistan, sadly, you are not a Muslim until you hate Ahmadis or until you don’t curse the people who made photos of the Prohet or you don’t murder the blasphemer.

    My friend when hate is amalgamated within your beliefs, there is less you can do to ignore it.Recommend

  • Pradeep

    I agree with your point. I think many Americans are mistaking the killing to a victory in the War on Terror and are celebrating it like VE Day at the end of World War II. What they fail to realize is that terror is not going to stop because a single terrorist has been killed. In any case that is exactly what the US wants them to think so that they can pull out of Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Nobody

    I’m no fan of Terry Jones, but you say he should be brought to justice for disrespecting Islam? What about the so called “muslims” (more like hate-mongering extremists) who disrespect Islam day in and day out (some residing in Pakistan)? Shouldn’t the growing # of crazies promoting violence in Pakistan as well as around the globe be brought to justice before a kooky pastor with a relatively tiny # of followers? Recommend

  • Maira

    Another great write up by you. I was waiting for someone to say this. Was very disappointed with some of the blogs about OBL. This was lovely.Recommend

  • shoeb

    Abu bakr for president :)… come back home son we need people like u here.Recommend

  • haroon

    Excellent article.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    I never dissed the guy. The first quotation starts with a closing double-quote, the second does not have a Capital letter when it starts. And then, I responded to Fahad Raza’s comment:

    I would also like to appreciate that your composition is very consistent not incoherent.

    To which I said,

    I am growing out to be a fan of yours, Abu Bakr. Surprisingly, I did not find anything incoherent in it.

    As being part of a publishing company, I know that submitted material is edited and it is the editor’s job to make sure that it gets out, right. And this is not the first time that I have complained about punctuation. I admit that I am not a punctuation hot-shot myself but I know the works.

    I would like reinforce my statement that I have been a fan of Abu Bakr’s writing style. I have followed his blog posts and I love the way he talks back like an actual blogger.

    @Abu Bakr:
    Had I knew that my comment would start a mess, I would have kept them to myself. You are an excellent writer and keep up the good job.Recommend

  • parvez

    Enjoyed reading this. Liked the way you laid out your thoughts and reasoning.
    The man on the street in America is a simple, honest soul not necessarily very well educated or infused by the same values that you as a privileged person possesses, so if he indulges in a ‘feel good’ moment for his country irrespective of the reason behind it, you can let it pass gracefully.Recommend

  • Usman

    @Hassan Raza:
    Also ask your japanese friend what they did to the chinese in WWii. That lot isnt so innocent either.Recommend

  • http://www.pkhope.com Maleeha Khan

    Ecxellent Article!! its Fab specially the line I couldn’t celebrate death….. touched my heart :( it xplains every thing !!Recommend

  • http://Mumbai Blunt!

    Don’t celebrate the death, but you can be releived about the justice done to the victims of 9/11…. Give a thought for those people, their loved ones & families in the aftermath of 9/11Recommend

  • Himesh Kazmi

    Loved it. Common sense should prevail, but it seems so often that it doesn’t.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    You’re probably correct, but i feel too many people ‘indulge’ in these celebrations for the sake of them. When there is a reason to be patriotic and chant your countries name, people take the opportunity without realizing what the actual meaning behind it is.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    country’s Recommend

  • Fawad

    I see people asking for equal treatment and saying that the ‘Jihadi’s’ celebrated too, and that the Americans suffered a great deal and that we should understand their need to celebrate. I think the writer clearly stated he understands everyone’s pain and also understands their need to celebrate quite clearly! Remember OBL declared war on us too, and we’ve also suffered massively from suicide bombers. Like it or not, one way or the other OBL had something to do with them. I think the point of the piece was not that people are wrong to celebrate, rather the writer is saying HE will not celebrate and that people SHOULD not and here’s some reason why. I’m sure Mr. Agha would agree.Recommend

  • maryam

    I would like to especially appreciate the point you make about reactions to the depictions of the Prophet(PBUH). I also think tolerance is the best solution to this and we just do their work for them by reacting violently. What a great, GREAT post.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    This is exactly how i think..BRAVORecommend

  • hina


  • shumaila

    great work abubakr…loved reading the whole. wanted it not to end. it’s thought provoking and an eye opener…fabulous..keep up posting such amazing things…we should talk over all these prevailing and burning issues..looking forward to having a new article from you very soon..Recommend

  • Mr white pathan

    Its symbolism.Look at Pakistan’s episode with Raymond Davis.Raymond Davis was more than a CIA agent who gunned down two people allegedly for self defense,he was a symbol of american oppression and imperialism against muslims.Davi’s execution would have been seen as a symbolic victory over the ‘american and Israeli Zionist kafir oppressors’ and I can bet my life that if he had indeed been executed people would have celebrated(is that wrong you bet but thats the way people work not all but quite a few) Recommend

  • Sathish Reddy

    Dear Abu Bakr,

    Just visualize this in the same context as 9/11.

    Some body comes into to your country uninvited without having to face all the passport and visa fuss that you have and indiscriminately destroys and kills innocents and leaves.
    How would you feel ???

    The raid in Abbottabad was much the same except that the target was nullified without collateral damage. (Word is coming out that Pak forces were to be engaged is there was an interference.)

    I can see a lot of indignation and anger in your country with regard to this .
    Now if these seals were to be scourged out in the ravines of Colarado and shot to death, I think people like you, too, would feel relief and a sense of vengeance achieved.

    That was what the common man on the street in New York felt – a sense of closure.

    Unless it happens to you in your country you wouldn,t understand it.

    If, 26/11 were to be closed like this, I wouldn’t jump for joy on the streets ( because I have a bad knee ) but my smile wouldn’t fit in your widescreen camera. Recommend

  • Ali

    very nice, man keep it up.Recommend

  • http://www.danceconnectionnj.com/performing_arts_camp.php Nick

    Terrific post. It made me realize the truth of the life. Death is not to celebrate, it is time to forget the miseries caused by person on his innocent death. Recommend

  • Sabahat Naseem

    A big, big thank you for giving words to my thoughts! :) we all seriously need a thud of ‘wake up’ call!Recommend

  • Kiran

    Touching, to the point and brilliant.Recommend

  • Warm

    Loved this. If only everyone was as open minded..Recommend

  • Osman


  • http://none vikash

    nothing i can say on this blogRecommend

  • Fawad

    Waiting for a new post by you sir!Recommend