Five years on from 9/11, the world remembers

The mainstream media in many countries have been preoccupied with events in the United States to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon on 9/11 2001. But the repercussions of these events have spread across the globe and people far beyond New York and Washington. Here the Global Voices team has gathered together a sample of citizens’ voices marking the anniversary.

We have samples of opinion from regions across the world (click on the link to go directly to individual sections): Africa, China, South East Asia, South Asia, the Americas and French language blogs as well as the Middle East.

We'll start in Africa where kenyanentrepreneur dives in to the most obvious consequence, the US invasion of Iraq, in her post Remembering 9/11:

It's amazing watching all the coverage about 9/11. I have yet to see any mention of the 100,000 innocent Iraqi civillians who have been killed in a war that George Bush started using false pretenses.

WMD's – none have been found

Sadam's links to 9/11 – Bush now says there were no links

Now, we are told the goal was to bring democracy to the Middle East. Let's see – you illegally invade a sovereign nation that has not attacked you, in total contravention of international law.. then, you turn around and claim that you are now going to impose the rule of law & democracy on the country that you have illegally invaded!!

The biggest threat to secular regimes in the Middle East are religious zealots like bin laden & Zawhiri, not America (just ask Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, who incidentally has never been elected)…If a free & fair election were held in Egypt today, mubarak would lose and he'd be replaced by religious fundamentalists. The only reason that regime survives is because of the billions of dollars in aid they get from America. Mubarak is an autocrat, but he is their kind of autocrat. He has said that he would like his son to replace him as president when he decides to retire. I will never understand how an idiot like Bush managed to manipulate the American People.

In a similar vein nakeel says I too remember 9/11

“Teach Bin Laden to be a terrorist, If you kill one person, you are a murderer, if you kill 2,900 people one morning, you are a terrorist, but if you go to Iraq and kill 330,000 people inthree years you are a democrat like President George Bush.”

At Grandiose Parlor Inmakoyi uses the anniversary to consider the effect of anti-terror measures on the foreign remittance-sustained economy of Somalia:

This system is driven by an informal money transfer system called Hawala, a system that has been in existence for generations in the Middle East and some Islamic nations worldwide.

But this system is about to slam into a brick wall put in place by the United States government. Why? September 11 and susbsequent fight to curb money laundry and terrorism.

In order to cut off funding to terrorist organizations, the regulatory agency in charge of foreign money transfer business now mandates and it enforcing stricter regulation of the industry. Unable to secure the required assistance from U.S banks and other financial institutions, the local money transfer system the Somalis have enjoyed for decades is gradually choking and may totally go into extinction, if alternative and workable modes of money remittance are not put in place.

Meanwhile in what he calls An ode to reality, Zimpundit exhorts people to remember the strength of shared human experience, not just the negativity:

In the billowing dust, the towering smoke, the piercing screams, and the harrowing sites from 9/11 America found this redemptive reality; that when all had been said and done, it was the basic notion of our mutual humanity that meant most to her people in their darkest hour…

In that, you stepped into the very souls of the valiant individuals who led the Civil Rights Movement. That very moment brought you into concert with enduring cries for a better world that ring from Auschwitz to Waterloo in antiquity; and through Bhagdad, Beirut, Darfur, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in modern times. In all those places; at ground zero, but most importantly in each every human heart resides an inextinguishable flame of an alternative to reality. And at it's core is the ability only human beings posses to see beyond the visual.

As you rise like the Phoenix from the flames of your toughest test America, don't forget the reality that saw you through your darkest depression. Hold fast to that reality of the mutuality of our humanity America; for when all else fails you know you can always hang onto that hope that only humans are capable of producing. Remember my dear friends that even though the toughest gap to bridge spans from your mind to mine; the toughest bond to break break runs between your heart and mine. And that America, is my ode to reality.

There's been a wide range of reaction from Chinese bloggers, from those like the writer at Garbled Text who was in New York five years ago:




When 911 happened, I was in Manhattan, New York, just preparing to happily begin my life of study. I'd only walked past the World Trade Towers once; at the time I thought: if I stay in New York for a few years I won't have to put up with the excitement of all those tourists, it's not like the World Trade Towers won't still be there.

Then, they weren't.

Five years, in just a snap of fingers, that day in New York is just like today's Beijing; the weather is excellent, the sky is blue, the sun is shining. So many people, on a day just as nice as this, left this world in a flash.

What I'll never forget is the look in peoples’ eyes and the crying I heard coming from the office at the end of the corridor that morning. From what I heard, it was that teacher's lover.

From personal experience we move to Land LCJ's‘s blog which considers the wider effects on and of the American way of life:




Five years have gone by and three new buildings are about to be built on the original site of the World Trade Center. The tangible losses can be made up for, but the intangible losses have altered the entire American value system, which are now beyond returning to normal.

In the Afghanistan of bin Laden's shadow, America's own army has overthrown the Taliban it once supported; similarly, without having received the United Nation's authorization, America, using the existence of weapons of mass destruction as a reason and in the name of anti-terrorism, invaded Iraq. And overthrown this time is America's past collaborator, Saddam. On top of all that is that after three years of searching, a trace of weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found. All along the mighty American army, armed to the teeth American army, under armed attack from Iraqi guerrillas and Islamic extremist forces, have lost close to 3000 bodies. The democracy and freedom anticipated by the Iraqi people has yet to arrive. On the contrary, assassinations, roadside bombs, human bombs and religious factions’ killings have come in its places. That mighty America's enemies ‘cannot be found’ is a bit like the story about the tiger and the thorn in its paw.

Bush is also a little irritating, directly equating terrorism with Islam. These kinds of enemy are naturally easy to find. But, is it really that effective? Recently England has uncovered a 911 sort of incident, European terrorists have established new groups threatening to attack foreign troops stationed in Iraq. What this series of incidents goes to show is that terrorists are not that easily defined or identified. A large part of the process of creating terrorists has to do with America's pushing of freedom and democracy. The world is diverse, civilization is multilayered. Simply and singularly pushing one's own set of values will inevitably lead one into fire.

The writer of Xiao Yi 128zh's blog further analyses the American values at issue, and ascribes them to a poor grasp of history:


What we need to worry about are the American common folk. What is there we could say about America's rulers and policy-makers? Putting interests first is a nation's purpose, even if there will be restrictions on the concept of what's fair and moral. Seizing authority to create change will never be easy, in America, China or any country. But on 911 that day we saw too much destruction in America, too much destruction of New York. But as to why this kind of terrorism was created, and why it was directed at America and England…why didn't they come bomb China, with all those skyscrapers in Beijing and Shanghai, and in so many other countries. Here the American government and Americans ought to consider what their government's position is, whether or not their people understand the world. Many facts suggest America's education doesn't give sufficient recognition to the history culture and status quo of other countries. The long-term result of this education is that many Americans don't understand the world, unlike us Chinese who quite understand America and the things things that happen there. But most Americans don't understand China, they still think China is the same it was during the Cultural Revolution, so funny. Similarly, Americans don't understand the Middle East or the Arab world. They rely on their own way of thinking in considering the world; as long as others think differently from how they do, they'll think those people are strange, unscientific, that's why when they want to change a place, change its world and concepts, the result is that a conflict is created and intensified; many social phenomena and displays of behavior will naturally occur, at least hatred will be in their hearts.

在表达自己的观念和利益时没有合理合法的途径时,人自然会想到非合理合法的途径, 仇恨美国的所作所为的人在没有正常途径表达自己的时候,就只能冒天下之大不韪,挺而走险,

911是一种给美国思维反抗的信号,想一下美国在宣扬自己的思维和利益的时候,找到一条合理合法的途径,在别国派部队,建基地,甚至敢于饶过联合国对伊拉克动武,推翻了一个国家政权,尽管反对的很多,包括联合国,照样不可奈美国何,还有很多追随者,对于受到攻击的国家和人民来说,又是一种什么样的心境和悲惨,他们又将该怎么办,合理合法的途径他们还有吗,他们的仇恨又怎样能的的到尊重,怎样得到抚平,理在人心,法是人定,理我们都知道谁对谁错,可法在哪里,法不在受到攻击的国家和人民手里,在美国等世界大国手里,换位思维可想,美国的种种行为何尝不是一种披着合法外衣赤裸裸的侵略,是一种明目张胆风雨无阻的恐怖主义, 911是一个让人痛苦的日子,是一个让人思考的日子,是一个从5年前就不在平凡的日子,是一个能让美国人必须要重新认识自己,重新认识世界的日子……

When expressing one's own ideas and interests, when there's no reasonable or legal approach, people naturally think of an inappropriate or illegal approach. All those who hate America, with no normal means by which to express themselves, can only risk everyone's condemnation and stick to taking the dangerous route.

911 was a kind of signal in resistance to the American way of thinking. If you think about it, when America promotes its own way of thinking and interests, finds a reasonable and legal avenue to dispatch troops to other countries, establish bases, even going around the United Nations in attacking Iraq, overthrowing a country's regime, despite the many objectors, including the United Nations, leaving nothing to be done about America and the many of its followers. As for the countries and people who have been attacked, it's another frame of mind and tragedy of what sort? And what are they supposed to do. Are they left with any appropriate or legal avenues? How will their hatred gain respect or comforting? Truth is in people's hearts, and the law is set by people. The truth as to who wronged who we all know, but where is the law? The law isn't in the hands of the countries or the people who have been attacked, it's in the hands of America and the other large countries of the world. If you think about it from another perspective, many of America's behaviors usually just wrap a coat of legality around naked aggression, a kind of brazen, rain-or-shine terrorism in itself. 911 is a day which leaves one in anguish, a day which makes one think, a day which as of five years ago will never be normal again, a day which can force Americans to get to know themselves again, get to know the world again……

Qin Xuan is a Chinese Muslim and a journalist specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. Blogging at he offers an analysis of the intertwining of American national self-interest and the avowed intent of combatting terrorism…


Five years ago, 911 presented a problem that both America and the human race had no choice but to deal with. This problem can not be simply described as terrorism, because terrorism has always existed. The essence of this problem is that terrorist activities arisen from the fundamental teachings of Islam's support of terrorist attacks and actions have successfully inflicted heavy losses on a developed nation's national security defence system and on its peoples’ psychology.


These five years, with the Bush government taking the lead, all actions aimed at resolving this problem have been referred to simply as anti-terrorism. At the same time, though, the so-called Bush government's use of anti-terrorism as a means to safeguard America's interests is actually a problem separate from anti-terrorism. Because even if there were no anti-terrorism, the Bush government would still be working for America's interests. This is something his job requires he do, just operations as normal.


We cannot blindly go along with his anti-terrorism based solely on America's surface-level words and deeds, or persist in referring to the gambles he takes as anti-terrorism. Because to begin with both of these existed together. From Afghanistan to Iraq to today, all have been for carrying out two missions, one is opposing terrorism, the other is working for America's interests.



The problem is, as I said at the beginning, Bush's five years of anti-terrorism, as a stage, how much of his blueprint at the time has been realized? How much of what he anticipated would be accomplished after five years has been realized? To put it more simply, first of all, of all the problems terrorism has given rise to, how many have been resolved? How much of America's national interests have been realized? Secondly, how many new problems has anti-terrorism given rise to?

Further, another problem to be discussed, based on the present situation, based on the last five years of experience and lessons, what will the next five years be like? What will the next step be?

There were some in China who celebrated as the news of the attacks on the US came out. One such was the writer of XG-JF's blog, and it's a reaction which has not changed:



I watched it at the time on television, several of my colleagues in our dorm were jumping with happiness, and in the dead of night ran outside to buy some drinks for a celebration. After that, China's embassy in Yugolsavia got bombed and an American jet was carrying out reconnaissance in our South Sea, bringing pilot Wang Wei's plane crashing down. In everybody's hearts was an unspeakable hatred and abhorrence of America. That's why when we saw that something had happened in America, there wasn't anybody who wasn't enjoying it, or clapping their hands in glee.

Five years after the fact, there's still not much good feeling towards America. This country aggressively uses its might to start wars, using all sorts of reasons as excuses to look for battles all over the world, attacking its enemies. First it was Afghanistan, and then Iraq, now it looks like Iran's next. Really disgusts one. It's also used various methods to contain China, Taiwan still hasn't been able to return. From the bottom of my heart I really hope our motherland can quickly grow strong and large and take back what should be taken back, take care of what needs taking care of. Only then will there be peace under heaven.

The author of XT Kasuo's Sohu blog also wants peace, but not at the expense of more human suffering:



I just remember that that morning I went to school and the girl behind me asked me if my family was in the World Trade Center, asked quite strangely. It was only when everyone around us then started talking about it that I knew that America had been bombed.

Then in class, every teacher talked about it. I remember at that time there wasn't a single teacher that was happy about it. A few classmates were happy, saying that this would make Americans less arrogant. But at that time most of us were really upset, because we felt those terrorists really shouldn't have done something like this. Especially with all those innocent people inside. I also felt we should not be happy about this, that this wasn't punishment against America, but a challenge to world peace. Now more and more people want peace. I really feel that this way of going about it definitely lacks consideration.

There has been a more muted reaction across South East Asia. In Singapore Sparklette remembers what she was doing that day:

i was having my economics class back in ACJC. instead of discussing inflation and plotting price-quantity graphs, murmurs regarding the attacks were circulating around the class. at that point in time no one had fully grasped the gravity of the situation yet

Her post is headed by a pictorial tribute to the people of New York and she has this to say:

to the people who are still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones, please know that the world is with you! for those terrorists, did they seriously think that killing thousands of innocent people would bring them to heaven?

The theme of the fate of the killers, of all killers, is one taken up by the blogger at The Daily Brunei Resources who explains why the post, called Post 9/11, was published the day after the date in question:

Yesterday was 9/11 and much as I wanted to write about it, I thought of all the atrocities committed in the name of fighting the war against terror since then, I decided against it. I even refused to post about it on 9/11 but preferring today 9/12 as a small but token gesture against the current military incursions as even in the fight against terrorism, the end does not justify the means. The battle against terrorism will only succeed if economic development in the crisis regions is strengthened – countries need more economic help and not more military help. There should be respect for international law and respect for countries’ sovereignity and tolerance for other cultures.

I pray that the Al-Mighty have mercy on all those who have died since then and pray that whoever are the perpetrators of all these deaths receive their fair judgment in hell when they die. The world may be a changed place but it is not an excuse for any military incursions nor for any gratuitous deaths.

US-based Singaporean blogger Kevin Lim writes at theory.isthereason about an online project by Singapore's National Library called The September Project to commemorate 9/11 and also observes that the event might have marked the cultural birth of blogs. And having done so he finds many others who share his opinion and links to them in his post Why 9/11 truly gave birth to Blogs.

Indonesian blogger Asri Wijayanti was moved to verse on her blog a girl's stories…:

Many people condemn when they mourn
Many people are in enormous anger when they are in grieve
Some people plan to revenge when they cry
Some people can turn into a cruel creature when their hearts are broken
Many people gain their unpredictable power when they feel powerless

The survivors always remember how it felt to be the victims,
murders took place in the name of the deceased,
and many wars start just right after the funerals…

From South Asia we have the Global Voices roundup of responses from blogs in the Kannada language, and at The 3rd world view Rezwan recalls some of the Bangladeshi victims:

Nurul Haq Miah and Shakila Yasmin was a Bangladeshi Muslim couple who used to work in the world trade center and was among the unfortunate ones. Nurul was in the 99th floor, attending a meeting when the 1st plane hit their office. Nurul used to work for Marsh & McLennan for about 15 years. Shakila's office was located in the 97th floor, just below. Shakila just started about one year ago six months after they got married on April 2, 2000.

USA honored them this year by renaming the southeast corner of the 3rd Avenue and Ovington Avenue of Ney York after Shakila Yasmin and Nurul Haque Miah, two Bangladeshi victims of the 9/11.

In the Americas there is a comprehensive roundup of Peruvian blogger reaction [ES] by Juan Arellano writing at BlogsPeru: Noticias y Novedades while Melissa De Leon Douglass has included responses from Panama in her blog roundup post.

And from the Caribbean. . . . In his 9/11 post Andy Hunt, a Brit running an eco-resort in Belize, segues from a rant about “power crazy leaders like George Bush and Saddam Hussein” to one about corruption among the Belize goverment leadership. (Belize, Andy notes, marked 25 years of independence from Great Britain on September 10). A “former Charlton Athletic, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion Striker,” Andy leaves readers the wish that “our competitive tendencies and primitive tribal urges can be satisfied on the field of sport and not on the field of war.”

Providence Stadium in Guyana remembers “the 23 Guyanese” who died in the 9/11 attacks, though his compatriot Larry H., who now lives in the US, says it was more like 43. “Some may look at the number and think it small,” Larry writes. “But coming from a nation that has population that's less than a million, and the fact that as a small nation most of our lives are interconnected in some way or the other, yes, it hurts. And I'm sure many of my fellow immigrants can agree with this.”

Barbados Free Press offered a “What I Learned from 9/11″ list, complete with point-by-point analysis and Jamaican novelist Marlon James (John Crow's Devil), who happens to be acquainted with “the last person to leave the building alive,” contributed a 1200-word essay which contains the following paragraph:

As a Jamaican I know full well the feeling of being powerless in the presence of my own government. . . . I'm just not ready to accept the American citizen as being as scared, angry and confused as I am. I'm not ready to accept the American as victim or even human. I remember the first time I came to the U.S. and was stunned that all the women did not looking like Farrah Faucet all the men didn't like Patrick Duffy. I was stunned that America was a land of people and not types and that it was people who died in 9/11. . . . I'm not trying to give American a hug (well maybe new York), but I am looking for a conversation.

From the French language blogs we have the following pot pourri starting with La Reunion blogger Pierrot Dupuy, for whom 9/11 gave a chance to expose a local politician's carelessness with an important fact. Deputy-Mayor Rene-Paul Victoria seems to have flat out lied in answer to the question “What were you doing on 9/11?” asked by local daily Le Quotidien, alleges the blogger. To Victoria's contention that he was in his National Assembly offices on the mournful day, Dupuy counters (Fr): “the only problem is that he was only elected deputy June 16, 2002, i.e. 9 months later!!! That is called having a sense of anticipation… All right, I am going to be kind to Rene-Paul and show him that I know his schedule better than he does: on September 11, 2001, he attended a meeting a the Creolia Hotel in Saint-Denis. And it was his table mate who told him the news…”

In Martinique Le Blog de [Moi] reposts Slate's satyrical graphic interpretation of the 9/11 Commission report as well as cartoon on the quest for Bin Laden by French cartoonist Chapatte which she says (Fr): “captures the essence of the quest better than anyone.” In the cartoon, an American soldier shoots at his own Bin Laden-shaped shadow.

And Senegal's Seckasysteme commemorated in the following words (Fr): “The whole world remembers and stands in solidarity with Americans to show compassion for the tragic lot of thousands of victims of this tragedy, but also to condemn barbarism.”

There has of course been a great deal of response and analysis from across the Middle East. Jerusalem-based blogger DesertPeace sees hatred as the root cause of the attacks, and sees little having changed over the intervening five years:

What are the roots of such intense hatred that the slaughter of thousands of innocent people was the result? At this point in history I do not see the need to actually ‘catch’ the alleged guilty culprits, but rather to determine why it was done.

The United States has done things over the past decades to make many a nation look at them with suspicion, even hatred. The documented crimes against the people of the Congo, Japan, Ghana, Guyana, Cuba, Chile, Viet Nam, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, the list is endless, gives many a nation a motive. To say it was any one in particular would be wrong and would not accomplish a thing. Sadaam was blamed, Bin-Laden was blamed, both had a motive… but did they do it? I personally have great doubts.

What I do know is that hatred is an evil force that has to be erased from the face of the earth. The seeds of hatred that are continuing to be sown by the Bush Administration have to be destroyed before they sprout.

The world must come together as one race, the human race. We must learn about each other, we must learn to trust each other. Only then will we achieve world peace. Only then will there be a hope that hatred will die out and become a relic of the past.

Only then will there be a guarantee that horrors, such as those of September 11th, 2001, will never happen again anywhere.

We have to start the process NOW…. before it is too late.

From Syria, and In the Axis, expatriate American Brian Anthony has a similar point to make:

In the decade before the 3,000 innocents died on 9/11, over 100 times that many innocents died in Iraq through UN-imposed sanctions. Singular, and often solitary, US support for the Israeli apartheid state had destroyed countless thousands, perhaps millions of lives throughout the Middle East. These are not the years of the Raj, where you can just kill the ‘niggers’ (as the Imperial Brits called anyone a shade darker than paper) with impunity. The niggers got guns and bombs now. Someone would inevitably aim for revenge.

So perhaps a more introspective question, a slightly tougher one than ‘What were you doing on 9-11?’ is this: What were you doing, America, for the three decades leading up to 9-11, while other people's innocents were being killed? It's a question I was disappointed more didn't ask after 9-11. With the ‘Bring ‘em on, Cowboy’ approach failing miserably, and with terrorism getting worse, not better, and with over 200 killed for every victim of 9-11, and with American power and influence declining daily over this stupid war, that question needs to be answered now more than ever.

In counterpoint to this view Odog at Bethlehem Bloggers says the victim “numbers game” misses the central point of our shared humanity:

An understandable reponse by many who suffer the consequences of American foreign policy is to minimise the event. Considering the death toll in Iraq or the atrocities perpetrated by Israel at the bequest of the US, the casualties America suffered back in 2001 is nothing in comparison.

However, all of this I think misses the point. If one can strip away the political rhetoric, human tradgedy is human tradgedy. Seeing two pillars of American capitalism crumble before your eyes might fill your heart with ecstasy or even the feeling that just retribution has finally reached the shores of America, but people were in those buildings all the same, people like you and me.

While the anniversary will inevitably be exploited by Bush and Co. to further thier case for more bloodshed in the name of “freedom”, September 11 can also be a means to send an alternative messege; a message in support of our universal humanity. As humans we are all equal and deserving of our freedoms. If one genuinly accepts this premise and not the view that “some are more equal than others”, then the finacial and political systems which entrech exploitation and oppression fundamentally come into question.

In Iraq Sooni remembers the attacks as A day to change history and urges the free world to keep up the pressure on “the criminals”:

What I hope is that the whole free world keep remembering this day because it’s the day that started the War on Terror. I know that the voices calling to stop the operations and pull back to the United States are rising more and more, I think they have forgot or at least started to feel safe, well they might be wrong, the hatred is still big and only small portion of it eliminated. If you stop now you will give them the chance to regroup again and soon you will see another attack in the United States and don’t forget what happened in England few weeks ago when the criminals tried to conduct a massive attack there. They are trying their best and you are trying to retreat leaving them more space to prepare themselves better!

At From Jerusalem with Love Matt examines the irony of unity in tragedy and wonders what humanity could achieve if similar energy now directed towards memorialising was devoted to solving current problems:

It's unfortunate that is takes commemoration of a mega-tragedy to bring people together and focus their thoughts on the same issue. I see the same process in Israel, when it's only during war that the country becomes less fractured and more united for a brief time. Imagine if modern societies were able to focus attention, energy and goodwill around things other than tragedy commemoration or self-defense.

Many millions of dollars and hours have been spent writing about 9/11, talking about it, depicting it, rethinking it, etc. I am not implying that the loss of thousands of innocent Americans to barbaric terrorists is not worthy of our grief and reflection for many years to come. The 9/11 “industry,” however, does make one think what our country is capable of when we're on the same page. What if we applied this passion to feeding our millions of below-poverty level children, or educating them, or fixing our troubled inner cities?

And we'll end this quick trip round the world with Moroccan US-based blogger Foualla, who writes at Refusenik. She posted a prayer To the victims… all over the world:

To those who died for no reason
To those who lived and still live through the pain
To the victims of hatred, injustice and tons melted steel not just under the sunny skies of New York, but also the sunny skies over Darfour, Baghdad, Ghaza, Madrid, Amman, Kabul, Riyadh, Bali, Beirut, Saida, Jakarta, Sour, London, Khobar, Mumbai, and Bint Jbeil.

Just a word of remembrance. And a prayer. And hope for a better day.



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