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5 May 2011

Archbishop of Canterbury criticises killing of Bin Laden

Killing an unarmed man leaves an “uncomfortable feeling”, says Rowan Williams.

By Samira Shackle

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has condemned the manner in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. At a press conference today, he said:

The killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling. It doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done.

I think it’s also true that different versions of events have not done a great deal to help.

I don’t know the full detail any more than anyone else. In such circumstances, when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a war criminal, it’s important that justice is seen to be done.

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This comes after an unlikely religious figure appeared to endorse the killing. The Dalai Lama, who avoids killing even mosquitoes because of his commitment to compassion, said in answer to a question about the assassination:

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened . . . If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures.

However, a post on his official website clarified this position:

His Holiness emphasised the need to find a distinction between the action and the actor. He said in the case of Bin Laden, his action was of course destructive and the September 11 events killed thousands of people. So his action must be brought to justice, His Holiness said. But with the actor we must have compassion and a sense of concern, he added. His Holiness said therefore the counter-measure, no matter what form it takes, has to be compassionate action. His Holiness referred to the basis of the practice of forgiveness, saying that it, however, did not mean that one should forget what has been done.

Sounds like he’s with the archbishop on this one.