Before I begin, let me make clear that I have never admired, supported, cared for, sympathized with or liked #OBL and those who pursue a path of violence which no rational person could believe would lead to a positive result.
The true refutation of OBL’s ideology of jihad as an act of violence regardless of its consequences is the revolutions in different Muslim countries. There, people did jihad with a purpose through means which Islam permitted. As Issandr El Amrani pointed out, OBL has been irrelevant for some time in the countries on whose behalf he claimed he was fighting. As Mona Eltahawy wrote in the Guardian:
What had become more mesmerising to young people in the Middle East and North Africa: change via revolutionary fervour that has blown apart stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, or the hate-filled al-Qaida message that falsely promised change through nihilistic violence?
The vast majority of commentary in the USA on OBL’s assassination has been jubilant. I understand why and I don’t think that Americans are uniquely subject to this character flaw. What concerns me here is the ridiculous, insulting and immoral way the US government has treated the corpse of OBL.
As @Zeinobia rightly pointed out, the burial at sea may have been compatible with the shariah of Vikings, not Muslims. The Grand Shaikh of al-Azhar in Cairo doesn’t think it met “Islamic requirements.”
But I’m not concerned with that either. My objection to the handling of the corpse is how it represents the usurpation by the United States of the last shred of sovereignty Pakistan might claim and the complete abdication of this sovereignty by the Pakistani government.
Why could not the United States leave the corpse where it fell? If Pakistan decided to feed it to wolves or cremate it or honor it with a state funeral, then that is Pakistan’s business. If the United States needed to confirm the corpse’s identity, couldn’t it have taken samples and then left the corpse behind? Could it not trust the Pakistani government to confirm the identity?
Regarding not being able to find a country which would accept the corpse, since when does the United States ask other countries for permission do to things? Particularly Pakistan, where the United States regularly assassinates people via drone attacks without specific authorization from any Pakistani authority?
Why could not there have been some lab aboard the ship to conduct whatever experiments and testing US intelligence demanded? Afterwards, the ship could have deposited the corpse in a Karachi dock and let Pakistanis decide what to do.
Or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? What a poor excuse for a government! Bury the corpse along with all the other people you execute for crimes ranging from sorcery to stealing bread to objecting to your ridiculous monarchy and its crimes against humanity.
We, the United States, can have military bases in democracy-movement-repressing Bahrain, but we can’t tell it to accept a corpse?
You may be saying, “This is a lot of verbiage over a corpse which belonged to a person whose actions deprived him of the right to consideration.” Frankly, if the US government said this, I would not object. My problem is the hypocrisy of saying that it respects Islamic customs while not respecting Pakistani Muslims to handle the corpse appropriately.
I wish somebody would compose an Antigone for this story. Creon punished Antigone for burying her dead brother Polyneices, who died in a rebellion against Creon. Obama is Creon, but Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aren’t courageous enough to be Antigone.
Update: Michael Moore’s tweets hit part of what I’m talking about:
Update #2: Unrelated, but fascinating: What happens when you’re buried at sea?
Update #4: Why won’t the U.S. government publicize the names of the Muslims who provide it religious consultation on Islam? Maybe we could learn a lot from them.