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Contentious burial sparks Islamic ire

He may have been America’s enemy No. 1, but after U.S. forces killed him, Osama bin Laden was afforded Islamic religious rites by the U.S. military.

He may have been America’s enemy No. 1, but after U.S. forces killed him, Osama bin Laden was afforded Islamic religious rites by the U.S. military as part of his surprise at-sea burial yesterday.

The U.S. military said preparations for the al Qaeda leader’s burial lasted nearly an hour.

His body was washed before being covered in a white sheet and religious remarks translated into Arabic by a native speaker were read over bin Laden’s corpse.

“The burial of bin Laden’s remains was done in strict conformance with Islamist precepts and practices,” said John Brennan, U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser.

Washington said bin Laden was buried at sea after U.S. forces killed him at a compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad because it was the best option, given tight time constraints.

Under Islamic tradition, Muslims need to be buried within 24 hours. Transferring the body to another country for interment could have taken too long, officials said.

News of the sea burial ignited immediate outcry, raising the possibility of wide backlash despite the apparent care the U.S. military gave to his last rites.

A prominent imam in Egypt, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, said the U.S. violated Islamic custom by not burying bin Laden on land, a move seen as a U.S. attempt to prevent his resting place from becoming a shrine for extremist followers.

In America, some questioned why the man responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people was laid to rest with such respect.

“I was a Navy doctor and if my (commanding officer) asked me to read a passage of the Koran over that guy, I would have gotten nauseated and sick and wouldn’t have done it,” said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim who heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

 
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