In Portland, Oregon, Muslims planned to hold a downtown rally Monday to celebrate the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and “call for unity and peace.” But they called it off after concerns over reprisals.
It’s at least the second small incident since bin Laden was killed that suggests not everyone is ready to move on now that the villain behind the attacks of 9/11 is finally no longer with us. Yesterday, police in Portland, Maine opened up a hate crime investigation after a mosque there was spray-painted with the phrase “Osama today, Islam tomorow [sic].”
In Oregon, there wasn’t a direct threat like there was in Maine. But organizers of the unity rally were fearful enough that something bad might go down at the rally that they canceled it.
“Just the reaction of [Sunday] nights’ news has been different, in different communities and we have been getting emails,” Salma Ahmad, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, which sponsored the event, told KOIN-TV. Some have been supportive - sending best wishes and there are really ‘out there’ emails.’”
Zafar Hasan, a vice president at the ISGP, told TPM that the group wasn’t threatened directly.
“We did not get any specific threats,” Hasan said, “we were simply concerned about a potential for something bad to happen especially after reading the reports about the vandalism at the mosque in Portland, Maine.”
Hasan said he was also concerned about how the event has been characterized in media reports.
“There were no plans for any kind of celebration,” he said. “We do not feel that it is appropriate to celebrate anyone’s death.”
There are no plans to reschedule yet, Hasan said.
The original headline for this post was written based on local media reports before Hasan commented to TPM.
Hasan said the event was a Muslim “get together to ponder and reflect upon this momentous event and remember the victims of the 9/11 tragedy.”
In other cities, law enforcement stepped up patrols at sites frequented by Muslims, following news of bin Laden’s killing. Police in Washington, DC have added security at mosques and synagogues this week. In Chicago, police reached out to an Islamic foundation that was subject to vandalism with baseball bats on Sept. 11, 2001.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated.