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 countries 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 would 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 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.
Ohio Muslim leader Tariq Ramadan claimed that the attacks were "planned by Americans".
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:
- 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.”
- Canada: In Canada, hundreds of United States-bound flights were diverted to Canadian airports, including a plane carrying President Glafkos Klerides of Cyprus, who landed in Montreal. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien also ordered all Canadian flags to be flown at half-staff for a month to show mourning and support in the immediate aftermath 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."
- 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.
- Ireland: A National Day of Mourning was held in Ireland on Friday, September 14.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
In the following day of the attacks, the 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.
- 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, said 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 and also 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, Web sites 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.
- Cuba: The Cuban government expressed its pain and solidarity with its longtime adversary and offered air and medical facilities to help.
- 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”.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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'Attacks celebrated in West Bank' by The Times, UK
'Palestinians in Lebanon Celebrate Anti-US Attacks' by Ain-al-Helweh, Lebanon (AFP)
'Palestinians Celebrate Attacks with Gunfire' by Joseph Logan (Reuters)
'AP protests threats to freelance cameraman who filmed Palestinian rally' (The Associated Press)
'Foreign journalists 'deeply concerned' by PA harassment' (The Associated Press)
'Palestinian Authority has muzzled coverage of Palestinian celebrations' (MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE)
'Israel to AP: Release film of Palestinian celebrations' (Jerusalem Post/The Associated Press)
'Bin-Laden Poster Seen at Gaza Rally' (The Associated Press).
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