2009 | 9 - Ugrupowania polityczne i ruchy społeczne w Afryce | 275-287
Article title

Osama ben Laden i al-Kaida w świadomości mieszkańców Afryki Zachodniej

Title variants
Osama bin Laden and Al-Kaida in the consciousness of the inhabitants of the West Africa
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The author of the article put the question about the cause of the popularity of the Osama bin Laden and Al-Kaida in Africa. He wonders if Africans are susceptible to the ideas preached by Al-Kaida, would they be the supporters of the terrorists? Wearing t-shirts and hanging posters with the likeness of bin Laden shows the identification with the ideas preaching by Al-Kaida. Africans, mostly Muslims, are not discouraged that Osama bin Laden is guilty of the death of thousands of people. They emphasize in unison that he is the part of the Muslim community, „he is a Muslim the same as we are". For Africans, of very important value is the person who is strong and who protects the weakest and that is exactly how the image of Osama bin Laden is created for people. In the utterances of some people we can also find the effort to deny that Osama bin Laden could be the culprit of the attacks „that is not bin Laden who organized the assassination, he is Muslim and Koran tells us not to kill". After the WTC attack the likeness of bin Laden appeared on a mass scale in Africa. It was possible to meet it in many situations. The most obvious examples being the stickers on vehicles and t-shirts worn by people of different ages. Less visible were the watches, scarf, calendars and posters. In spite of the mass media hype that sprung up around the Osama bin Laden, he is not the most popular person in the West Africa. For example, Bob Marley or Thomas Sankara are more popular. Wearing the t-shirts or pasting the stickers showing certain symbols, images or inscriptions are some kind of declaration. It would be too great, a simplification to say that wearing the t-shirt with Obama bin Laden is likely to identify with his actions. Some people have very little concept about him, and the shirts that they are wearing are only the fashion and the popularity of the person. The inhabitants of Burkina Faso clearly emphasize that the numerous copies of the likeness of Osama bin Laden result from the fact that „here are many Muslims and bin Laden is also a Muslim, that's why they wear his t-shirts". The identification with the strong figure does not apply only to bin Laden. In the market is possible to find posters which praise the deeds of Saddam Hussein and local traditional chiefs. Osama bin Laden is also very popular in other continents so his popularity in Africa is not surprising. His popularity doesn't mean that Africans are more susceptible to support terrorism than people from the other part of the world. Nowadays, there is no evidence for the existence of the structure of Al-Kaida in the West of Africa, with the possible exception of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
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