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9/11 Sparks Vigorous Debates in London and Beyond


London - Simon Woolley, the Executive Director of the London based Operation Black Vote, was one of the first British citizens to fly into the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks when he participated in a tour of America sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Woolley was originally scheduled to fly into the U.S. on September 12, 2001 but the cancellation of all commercial air flights in and into the U.S. in the wake of the attacks postponed his trip for a couple of days.

When Woolley arrived stateside he was amazed at what he encountered.
“There was a truly historical, magical movement of unity during the days after 9/11,” Woolley said.

Unknown to most Americans, nearly 70 British citizens died when the twin World Trade Towers in New York City collapsed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the highest death total of any single country behind Americans.

“I stood in a line for an hour in the rain outside of the U.S. embassy ten years ago to sign the book of condolence. People forget how much empathy there was for the USA post 9/11,” London resident Paul Bower said.

“The biggest wreath was from the Communist Party of Kurdistan.”

Many Muslims came to the U.S. embassy to pay their respects.
9-11 Sculpture in London made from steel from the Twin Towers in New York (photo by Linn Washington)9-11 Sculpture in London made from steel from the Twin Towers in New York (photo by Linn Washington)

“We condemned that incident immediately. There is no terrorism in Islam,” Altafar Rahman said during an interview four days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 inside a Muslim mosque on London’s Brick Lane, an iconic narrow cobble-stoned street noted for its curry restaurants and youthful counter-culture haunts.

The 9/11 terrorist attack on targets in New York City and Washington, DC plus a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania provoked a punitive military response from the U.S. government that decimated the freedom of life for millions from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Additionally the wars America unleashed in the wake of 9/11 drove the U.S. federal government deep into trillion-dollar debt that exacerbated multiple miseries for Americans.

Then President George Bush rallied Americans with the unusual call for citizens to descend on shopping malls to spend money.

Bush’s press secretary warned journalists not to question the administration’s account of the attacks which later proved to be misleading at best.

The unity that British resident Simon Woolley witnessed quickly dissipated.

“Unfortunately, that moment of unity was squandered due to the crude response of the War on Terror that America launched and Britain backed. That war brought more terror, death and insecurity than we could have ever dreamed of…”

One aspect of the 9/11 response was the fanning of hatred among Americans against Islam as a religion.


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