ciee - council on international educational exchange

Osama Bin Laden - Exchange
Student Perspective

Current event issues - Many events are reported to us through major media but rarely do students get to offer input on sensitive issues. Allow at least one class period for this topic.



There are many news stories covering the discovery of Osama Bin Laden's location which led to the USA infiltrating Pakistan and killing Bin Laden. The issue has had impact worldwide due to the fact that he was the leader of al-Qaeda, which has claimed responsibility over the years for attacks on civilians and many deaths. Many people are not aware of how many attacks have occurred or that there have been more Muslim people affected or killed by this terrorist organization than people of any other religion/faith.

The following links provide detailed information that can be used to clarify the facts that may have become distorted in the news.

Perspective from a Muslim exchange student currently in the USA.


There are thousands of exchange students in America this year and many are Muslim. I had the opportunity to talk with one of these students from Indonesia, who is staying with her host family in Texas, about her perspective on Osama Bin Laden.

1. Osama Bin Laden is known for his involvement in attacks on the USA, but he has been associated with attacks and bombings all over the world. What many people in the USA do not know is that more Muslim people have died in these attacks than any other group of people. How was the news of him being found and killed received by you and friends and family back home, especially those that are Muslim?

When I heard about that, honestly I didn't have any certain feeling about it. I opened news back home, and I asked my parents about it also. First thing that I saw, some people didn't believe about that news because in the last 10 years. There were news reports that said Osama died and he didn't. Some people were upset because he was buried in the ocean, instead of land which a Muslim is really supposed to be buried back to the land (soil). I understand though because there was an explanation from US that they did it for the safety, and to prevent the country from being attacked and it needed to be burried as soon as possible (due to syar'i- Muslim burial rules). I think that that was a logical decision, it's not a good idea if his followers know where his grave is and will do something, I don't know. I understand that it's a justice that he has been killed, finally after years trying to find him, as what President Obama said. In Islam, there is a Qisas (is an Islamic term meaning retaliation, similar to the biblical principle of an eye for an eye. In the case of murder, it means the right of the heirs of a murder victim to demand execution of the murderer), which means that he deserved it in the views of Islam. But the things that I personally I was upset with is that some people made a celebration about the killing. For me, as a human being, we shouldn't do that because it's a death of a human that we are supposed to at least just pray for him instead of party for his death, no matter who it is. In my school and community people were happy about the news, but they didn't say any bad things about Muslim's, which is really good for me because I want to make it clear that Islam is not terrorist. Everyone should know that in Islam, war is not allowed for offensive purpose. We are allowed to do war only if somebody attack us the first, so war is used for defense purpose, not offensive.

2. How has this recent event affected your country? What is the general opinion of Osama Bin Laden in your homeland?

Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim county, but just like the other states here which have a lot of diversity. There is no single response for an events that occur in this world. There is no way to generalize Indonesia in one type. There are some people who support campaign against terrorism, there are some people who are ignorant and don't care. There are some people who support Osama Bin Laden, and some saw the USA as an imperial capitalism state because of the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. But nationally in Indonesia we also fight against terorism, and in our country we have an anti-terrorism squad named DENSUS 88. Personally, I don't like war, I don't like terorism, I really don't know what's the point of war. Why there have to be any murder? I don't believe that the purpose of God created us was to kill each other or to fight each other. If there is a problem, I think it's better to discuss it, and with resolve it with diplomacy in a peaceful way. I hope this world will stop the wars soon, I hope the next generation, this young generation will change this things. I really hope.

3. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, do you feel that there have been any negative attitudes towards your country because they are Muslim?

I don't think we have had any bad attitudes from outside just because we are a Muslim country. So far, our country always stayed peaceful. We have different religions back home, by my own experience, I have Christians friends too. We are friends and it doesn't matter what religion we are because we respect each other, and we were taught to respect different religions since we were in elementary school. I love my country for that.

4. Since you have been here almost a year now as an exchange student, have you had any prejudice towards you as a Muslim (also include any positive interactions)? Regardless of religion one of the goals of the exchange program is to foster diplomacy through the student and the community, how has the community made efforts to foster diplomacy?

I didn't have any prejudice here as a Muslim, and I'm so glad about that, I just love my family, my friends, and everybody here. I respect them, and they respect me. I think the young generation is more flexible, just like my friends, they treat me just the same as others. They like to ask me about cultures, Muslims, and Terrorism. And I'd like to explain them and I tried to explain without make any misunderstanding from both sides. In my opinion, in this world, there is only good and bad people. It's never about religion because I'm sure that every religion teach good things, all religions. We can't even judge someone by what they wear and I believe that the only one who can know what a person is like, is only God. Human's are NOT perfect, we always make mistakes, that's the nature of being human. So, I have no problems with people here about my religion, and I'm so thankful about it. I love y'all!!



The response of our Indonesian student is definitely a great outlook and gives us a better view of how other parts of the world are responding to and dealing with terrorism just like we do in the USA. Taking time to step back and looking at others around the world as people that have family, jobs, and pride in their homeland makes one realize we are more alike that different. Just because something is different does not make it wrong, understanding the reason for differences can only help us become a better global community that is essential for the future of all races, religions and countries.

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