Reactions to the September 11 attacks
Reactions to the September 11 attacks included condemnation from world leaders, other political and religious representatives and the international media, as well as numerous memorials and services all over the world. The attacks were widely condemned by the governments of the world, including those traditionally considered hostile to the United States, such as Cuba, Iran, Libya, and North Korea. However, in a few cases celebrations of the attacks were also reported, and some groups and individuals accused the United States in effect of bringing the attacks on itself.
Many countries introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze the bank accounts of businesses and individuals they suspected of having connections with al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, the accused perpetrators of the attacks.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration declared a war on terrorism, with the stated goals of bringing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. These goals were to be accomplished by means including economic and military sanctions against states perceived as harboring terrorists and increasing global surveillance and intelligence sharing. Within hours after the September 11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld speculated on possible involvement by Saddam Hussein and ordered his aides to make plans for striking Iraq; although unfounded, the association contributed to public acceptance for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The second-biggest operation of the US Global War on Terrorism outside of the United States, and the largest directly connected to terrorism, was the overthrow of the Taliban rule from Afghanistan, by a US-led coalition.
In a Joint Statement by the American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society and Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated:
American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
Controversial Christian Americans
Two days following the attacks, on the Christian television program The 700 Club, television evangelist Jerry Falwell called the event a punishment from God and laid the blame on "paganists", "abortionists", "feminists" and "gays and lesbians", claiming that they "helped this happen". Host Pat Robertson concurred with the statements. Both evangelists came under attack from President George W. Bush for their statements, Falwell subsequently apologized.
After the attacks many governments and organizations in the West expressed shock and sympathy, and were supportive of burgeoning efforts to combat terrorism. Among them:
- Canada: Operation Yellow Ribbon was commenced by Transport Canada and Nav Canada in response to the first plane hitting the first World Trade Center, allowing all commercial flights entering the U.S. to land at Canadian airports and remain there.
- NATO: NATO held an emergency meeting of the alliance's ambassadors in Brussels. The secretary general, Lord Robertson, promised the United States that it could rely on its allies in North America and Europe for assistance and support, and pledged that those responsible would not get away with it.
- European Union: European foreign ministers scheduled a rare emergency meeting the next day of the attacks to discuss a joint response, as officials expressed solidarity with the United States. The external relations commissioner, Chris Patten, called the attacks "the work of a madman."
- Australia: Australian Prime Minister John Howard was in Washington D.C on the morning of the attacks and invoked the ANZUS Treaty, saying it demonstrated "Australia's steadfast commitment to work with the United States."
- Greenland: People gathered in Nuuk, and other town squares to light candles and offer prayers.
- Sweden: Trams and busses in Sweden came to a halt out of respect for the victims.
- Norway: Trams and busses also halted in Norway out of respect.
- Finland: Busses and other public transportation in Finland came to a stop to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks.
- France: The French newspaper of record, Le Monde, ran a front-page headline reading "Nous sommes tous Américains", or "We are all Americans". Following the attacks, French president Jacques Chirac released a statement: "It is with great emotion that France has learned of these monstrous attacks—there is no other word—that have recently hit the United States of America. And in these appalling circumstances, the whole French people—I want to say here—is beside the American people. France expresses its friendship and solidarity in this tragedy. Of course, I assure President George Bush of my total support. France, you know, has always condemned and unreservedly condemns terrorism, and considers that we must fight against terrorism by all means."
- Belgium: In Belgium, hundreds of people held hands to form a human chain showing solidarity in front of the Brussels World Trade Center.
- Germany: In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder described the attacks as "a declaration of war against the civilized world." Authorities urged Frankfurt, the country's financial capital, to close all its major skyscrapers. The new Jewish museum in Berlin canceled its public opening. In Berlin, 200,000 Germans marched to show their solidarity with America.
- Poland: In Poland, firefighters and other professional rescue workers sounded their vehicle sirens, letting loose a collective wail one warm afternoon. Many Poles also expressed their sympathy by lighting hundreds of candles in front of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw.
- Italy: In Italy, race car drivers preparing for the Italian Grand Prix silenced their engines out of respect for the victims of the attacks.
- Czech Republic: The Czech Republic declared National Days of Mourning.
- Austria: Church bells across Austria tolled in unison.
- Hungary: Firefighters in Hungary tied black ribbons to their trucks in honor of the victims.
- Croatia: Many school children in Dubrovnik took time to observe a moment of silence, and declared a National Day of Mourning.
- Greece: Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his dismay of the attacks on the United States. quoting "Greece condemns, most categorically, these horrific acts. We hope that the culprits be located and brought to justice immediately." Many Greek citizens called the U.S. embassy to offer their support and express their outrage over the attacks. Security was also ramped up at American and other European embassies in Athens. Opposition cadidate Kostas Karamanlis was in the United States at the time, attending the opening of a Greek Studies Department at Tufts University in Boston. Karamanlis also condemned the attacks.
- Bulgaria: People in Bulgaria also gathered in town squares to light candles and pray.
- Ireland: A National Day of Mourning was held in Ireland on Friday, September 14 and remembrance mass on 12 September 2001, one of few countries held a service day. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and President Mary McAleese were both in attendance.
- Israel: The day after the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged the world to fight terrorism and declared a national day of mourning in solidarity with the United States. To remember and honor the victims of terror attacks, the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza Cenotaph was built in Ramot, Jerusalem.
- New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark stated "It's the sort of thing the worst movie scenario wouldn't dream up," and a New Zealand Herald DigiPoll revealed that after the attacks 2/3 of New Zealanders supported a NZ pledge of troops to Afghanistan.
- In 2003, New Zealand began administering a "Pacific Security Fund" to vulnerable nations in the Pacific region aiming at securing and preventing terrorism from entering the region, there is an annual fund of NZD$3 million that is paid by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and is used to provide support to Pacific Island countries.
- United Kingdom: British security forces across the world were placed on maximum alert. Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged that Britain would stand "full square alongside the U.S." in the battle against terrorism. Queen Elizabeth expressed "growing disbelief and total shock." In London, the US national anthem was played at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace under orders from Her Majesty, and traffic on The Mall came to a halt during the tribute. A Service of Remembrance was held at St. Paul's Cathedral attended by the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. Ambassador William Farish, and a congregation of thousands inside and outside the cathedral.
- United Nations: In the following day of the attacks, the United Nations Security Council members condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and adopted resolution 1368 (2001), by which they expressed readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the attacks of September 11 and to combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with their Charter responsibilities.
Almost all Muslim political and religious leaders condemned the attacks. The leaders vehemently denouncing the attacks included the leaders of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak), the Palestinian Authority (Yasser Arafat), Libya (Muammar Gaddafi), Syria (Bashar al-Assad), Iran (Mohamed Khatami) and Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf). The sole exception was Iraq, when the then-president Saddam Hussein, said of the attacks that "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". Saddam would later offer sympathy to the Americans killed in the attacks.
- Pakistan: Clerics in Pakistani mosques condemned the attacks.
- Yemen: Clerics in Yemini mosques heavily denounced the attacks and labelled them as "cowardly" and "un-Islamic".
- Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabian government and the royal Saudi family condemned and denounced the attacks and offered to provide financial aid to the victims.
- Egypt: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak vehemently denounced the attacks.
- Libya: Muammar Gaddafi condemned the attacks.
- Syria: Bashar al-Assad also condemned the attacks.
- Iraq: After first justifing the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein, a few months later, offered his sympathy for the victims and Americans killed in the attacks.
- Jordan: King Abdullah II condemned the 9/11 attacks. Many Jordanians signed letters of sympathy.
- Kuwait: The Kuwaiti government condemned and denounced the 9/11 attacks. Some Kuwaitis lined up at local Red Crescent hospitals to donate blood.
- Qatar: Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani condemned the 9/11 attacks and denounced the terrorists who carried them out.
- Bahrain: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa condemned the 9/11 attacks.
- Iran: Both Iranian president Mohamed Khatami and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei comdemned and denounced the attacks and the terrorists who carried the attacks out. Iranians who gathered for a soccer match in Tehran two days after the 9/11 attacks observed a moment of silence.
- Lebanon: Lebanese president Émile Lahoud and prime minister Rafic Hariri both condemned the 9/11 attacks. Lebanese generals signed and sent letters of sympathy.
- Turkey: Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer and prime minister Bülent Ecevit condemned the attacks. The Turkish government then ordered all of its flags at half-mast for one day of mourning.
- Renowned Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi denounced the attacks and the unprovoked killings of thousands of American civilians as a "heinous crime" and urged Muslims to donate blood to the victims. He did, however, criticize the United States' "biased policy towards Israel" and also called on Muslims to "concentrate on facing the occupying enemy directly", inside the Palestinian territories. The alleged Hezbollah "spiritual mentor" and Lebanese Shia cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah condemned the attacks.
- Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, harshly condemned and denounced the attacks and also stated that he was not interested in exporting such attacks to the United States, however he criticized the "unfair American position".
- Afghanistan's Taliban rulers condemned the attacks, but vehemently rejected suggestions that Osama bin Laden, who had been given asylum in Afghanistan, could be behind them.
- Huge crowds attended candlelit vigils in Iran, and 60,000 spectators observed a minute's silence at Tehran football stadium.
- The Sahrawi national liberation movement Polisario Front condemned the "criminal attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the USA and, particularly, against defenceless innocent civilians".
Polls taken by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya and Gallup suggest some support for the September 11 attacks within the Islamic world, with 38% believing the attacks to be not justified, while 36% believing them to be justified. A 2008 study, produced by Gallup, found different results with 7% of the sample of Muslims polled believing the 9/11 attacks were at least 'completely justified', while 23.1% believed them to be 'somewhat justified'.
A group of Palestinians were filmed celebrating in the street in celebration of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the deaths of Americans. Fox News reported that in Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, revelers fired weapons in the air, with similar celebratory gunfire heard at the Rashidiyeh camp near the southern city of Tyre as well. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) condemned the attacks and attempted to censure and discredit broadcasts and other news reports. with many newspapers, magazines, websites and wire services running photographs. The PNA claimed such celebrations were not representative of the sentiments of the Palestinian people, and the Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said the PNA would not allow "a few kids" to "smear the real face of the Palestinians". In an attempt to quash further reporting, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat's Cabinet secretary, said the Palestinian Authority could not "guarantee the life" of an Associated Press (AP) cameraman if footage he filmed of post-9/11 celebrations in Nablus was broadcast. Rahman's statement prompted a formal protest from the AP bureau chief, Dan Perry.
Annette Krüger Spitta of the ARD's (German public broadcasting) TV magazine Panorama states that footage not aired shows that the street surrounding the celebration in Jerusalem is quiet. Furthermore, she states that a man in a white T-shirt incited the children and gathered people together for the shot. The Panorama report, dated September 20, 2001, quotes Communications Professor Martin Löffelholz explaining that in the images one sees jubilant Palestinian children and several adults but there is no indication that their pleasure is related to the attack. The woman seen cheering (Nawal Abdel Fatah) stated afterwards that she was offered cake if she celebrated on camera, and was frightened when she saw the pictures on television afterward.
There was also rumour that the footage of some Palestinians celebrating the attacks was stock footage of Palestinian reactions to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. This rumour was proven false shortly afterwards, and CNN issued a statement to that effect. A poll conducted by the Fafo Foundation in the Palestinian Authority in 2005 found that 65% of respondents supported the September 11 attacks.
Rest of the world
- People's Republic of China: Chinese President Jiang Zemin said he was "shocked" and sent his condolences to President Bush, while the Foreign Ministry said China "opposed all manner" of terrorism. In Beijing, tens of thousands of people visited the U.S. Embassy, leaving flowers, cards, funeral wreaths and hand-written notes of condolence on the sidewalk out front.
- South Africa: The president of South Africa halted all broadcasts and was left in solitude for the rest of the day after offering financial support to the US. Masses where held everywhere and thousands donated blood and money to support the American people
- Cuba: The Cuban government expressed its pain and solidarity with its longtime adversary and offered air and medical facilities to help.
- Brazil: In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro put up billboards that showed the city’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue embracing the New York City skyline, though it wasn't long before the billboards were defaced with the slogan "The U.S. is the enemy of peace".
- India: India declared high alert across most of its major cities and conveyed "deepest sympathies" to the U.S. and condemned the attacks. Children in the country taped up signs that read, "This is an attack on all of us".
- Bangladesh: People gathered in mosques in prayer, and clerics condemned the attacks.
- Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed "great anger" and said that "these acts of terrorism should not be forgiven." Special security precautions were ordered at all United States military installations.
- North Korea: A spokesperson for the North Korean Foreign Ministry was quoted by state-run news agency KCNA as saying: "The very regretful and tragic incident reminds it once again of the gravity of terrorism. As a UN member the DPRK is opposed to all forms of terrorism and whatever support to it and this stance will remain unchanged."
- South Korea: Immediately after the attacks, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung instructed all available ministries to assess the situation, and to ensure the safety of all Korean nationals living in the affected regions. He later offered his condolences, stating that he "would like to convey our most sincere condolences and sympathies to the people of America for their tremendous loss and the pain and the suffering that they suffer due to the terrorist attack." He also voiced his support for President Bush and the United States, and offered his full support and assistance.
- Philippines: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sent a letter to President Bush assuring the safety of U.S. facilities in the Philippines. She said that "nothing can describe the shock and horror of all humanity in the face of the unimaginable acts of terror inflicted on the United States." She added that the Filipino people extends condolences to all victims of the attacks. Arroyo also ordered the Philippine consulate in New York to search and confirm Filipino casualties of the attacks.
- Indonesia: Many Indonesians gathered on beaches to pray for the victims of the attacks.
- Russia: Russian troops were put on alert in response to the attacks. President Vladimir Putin held an emergency meeting of security officials and said he supported a tough response to these "barbaric acts". He also informed Condoleezza Rice by telephone that any and all pre-existing hostility between the two countries would be put aside while America dealt with the tragedy. In Moscow, women who spoke no English and had never been to America were captured on film sobbing in front of a makeshift tribute on a sidewalk. In addition, television and radio stations went silent to commemorate the dead.
- Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan offered the use of its airspace for relief and offered its condolences.
- Kyrgyzstan: The government of Kyrgyzstan offered its condolences, as well as the use of its airspace.
- Tajikistan: People gathered in squares to light candles, prayed and offered good wishes.
- Turkmenistan: Turkmenistan offered its condoloenses and offered the use of its airspace for relief.
- Uzbekistan: Leaders in Uzbekistan called the White House to offer its condolenses and also offered the use of its airspace.
- Azerbaijan: Azerbaijanis gathered in town squares to light candles, pray and offered good wishes.
- Kenya: The Maasai people in a Kenyan village gave 14 cows to help and support the United States after the attacks.
- Ethiopia: Ethiopians offered their prayers.
- Sudan: Leaders and Clerics in Sudan denounced the attacks.
- Mexico: Mexico increased its security, causing enormous traffic jams at the United States border and officials said they were considering closing the entire border. President Vicente Fox expressed "solidarity and our most profound condolences".
- Ukraine: As a nation, Ukraine immediately declared solidarity with the United States, and offered moral, technical and military support to the extent of their infrastructure. The Ukrainian parliament passed three resolutions all in favor of assisting the United States following the attacks. Congressman Bob Schaffer expressed gratitude towards Ukraine and its stance on terrorism, saying "Ukraine's condemnation of international terrorism, its much-appreciated support in the war on terrorism, its tough newly enacted laws to combat terrorism, and its commitment to fight at the side of the United States and its allies for civil society and democracy demonstrates the role Ukraine and her people intend to play in the emerging democracy."
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