Professor: America's Image Would Be Tarnished By ImagesBy Paul Murnane

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As officials in the Obama administration continue to debate whether or not to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s killing at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs, the issue was being widely debated at ground zero on Tuesday.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane With Reaction In Midtown

Of all the images seen of bin Laden in the days since his death, there is one that remains tightly under wraps and for many is the most sought after one.

The White House confirms two sets of bin Laden pictures — graphically showing a gunshot to the head — exist. However, because the government buried the Al Qaeda leader at sea to prevent a shrine in his honor, there is a growing push for photographic proof.

“Personally I think they should release the photo and put it to rest,” Vincent Merry of Crown Heights told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport.

At ground zero — considered by many to be hallowed ground where nearly 3,000 innocent souls perished under bin Laden’s master plan — some are demanding to see proof of the Al Qaeda leader’s death.

“I think people want to see them,” one woman said.

It is a sensitive issue for the Obama administration, which is still considering whether to release the photo. They are trying to balance the gruesome nature of the picture and the reaction it might cause. There is demand from some circles to see it as final proof bin Laden was killed and that he is gone for good.

“Yeah, most people want to see that he’s completely dead,” Dana Baskerville of Bayonne, N.J. said.

“If you release the pictures, it will serve as evidence,” said Pamela Geller, Executive Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative told CBS 2’s Derrick Dennis.  “I vehemently disagree that we should subjugate ourselves because it might hurt the sensibilities of the people that want to kill us.”

Other people’s opinions on the issue were more varied.

“I would lean towards not releasing it. I think it is going to incite a lot of anger,” Melissa Lemos of Carroll Gardens said.

Ghassan Shabaneh, an Islamic studies professor at Marymount Manhattan College, said going public with pictures of bin Laden’s body would tarnish the United States.

“Many Muslims around the globe look at the United States as the beacon of human rights and values and when the United States allows itself to go and do such a thing like this, this hurts the image of the United States,” Shabaneh said.

“It’s a hard decision and it can inflame people. And it can be seen as disrespectful to the Muslim culture,” John Delibero said.

“I think they should hang him by the crane…is what I think. And let everyone see him dead,” Frankie Sturiano said.

On Tuesday evening, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in a broadcast report that the photo would “ultimately be presented to the public.”

SOUND-OFF: Should the photos be released?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

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