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Decision Not To Release Bin Laden Photos Gets Mixed Reactions In Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Unsurprisingly, reaction is mixed across Philadelphia to President Obama’s decision not to release photos showing Osama bin Laden dead.

“The proof is in the pudding, I want to see it,” said Linda Massicotte at Reading Terminal Market.

“I think it would ease the American people’s minds,” said Karen Atkinson. “We saw the corpses of our people. Why can’t we see his corpse?”

“I don’t think so,” said Fitzgerald Dick when asked if Obama should release the photos. “I don’t want any danger to the troops.”

And a possible backlash in the Arab world worries a lot of people, including Zeina Elhalabi, a Muslim who works at the Arab-American Development Corporation in North Philadelphia.

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“I personally don’t feel it’s necessary,” she said. “He is a human being, and if people saw that photo it might stir a lot of emotions.”

When it comes to grisly photos, perhaps no one has more experience than Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. He makes decisions everyday about how much graphic detail to show juries in homicide cases.

“Showing a photograph that’s gruesome, showing half his skull being blown off isn’t necessary,” he said. “There’s always a balancing test. What is the value of the public to see something versus the effect that it might be in bad taste?”

Williams says there are plenty of instances where prosecutors refrain from showing a jury certain photos because they are not necessary to prove the case. He feels the same way about this.

“I don’t need to see the photograph. I will defer to the president.”

But at least one expert, professor Jamal Elias, chair of the Religious Studies department at the University of Pennsylvania, disagrees.

“I don’t think this is the final word on it. My personal feeling is they almost have to release the photo,” he said.

Elias argues that the possibility of a negative backlash in the Arab world has been over exaggerated. He says it is standard practice for television and newspapers in many other parts of the world, including the Middle East, to publish much more gruesome photos compared with what is done in the United States. He says a fake photo of a dead bin Laden was widely distributed earlier this week.

“There’s no taboo about it,” he said. “The sympathy for Osama bin Laden in the Islamic world is very small.

Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3

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