The tribute is an unusual move, though there have been cases in recent years of Pakistanis naming their sons – or even their stores and places of business – after the terror network’s late leader.
Bin Laden was killed in a May 2011 raid by US navy Seals in his hiding place in Abbottabad, a garrison town about 68 miles (110 km) north of Islamabad. The unilateral raid at the time angered the Pakistani government, which said the United States had violated the country’s sovereignty.
In the immediate aftermath of Bin Laden’s death, Islamists held small rallies across Pakistan to denounce the killing. The al-Qaida chief is still regarded as a hero by many students at Islamic schools, or madrasas.
Madrasas are an important aspect of education in Pakistan, and tens of thousands of students study in them. Most of the religious schools provide free food, tuition and even board for students who come from other parts of the country.
For cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, Bin Laden was also a hero and a martyr for Islam and he wanted to pay a proper tribute by naming the school’s library after him, the cleric’s spokesman Tehsin Ullah said.
Aziz has long been considered a hard-line and controversial cleric. He is also a prayer leader at the Pakistani capital’s Red Mosque – a former militant hideout that the army raided in 2007. The raid killed dozens of extremists and others and unleashed a wave of retaliatory militant attacks across Pakistan.
The mosque runs two schools, one for boys and one for girls. The girls’ school, called Jamia Hafsa, has an all-female staff and about 1,500 students.
The newly constructed, one-room library is located inside the school compound, next to a computer room and Aziz’s office. A paper sign posted on the library’s wooden door reads, in Arabic, “Maktaba Osama bin Laden Shaheed” – or, Library Osama bin Laden, the Martyr.
Abdul Rehman, the school administrator, said the library was built two months ago and was named after Bin Laden over a month ago – something that raised little attention until local media picked it up.
There were no visible books or portraits of Bin Laden inside the library, and Rehman stressed it can only carry books about the teachings of Islam.