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.

Some of this manipulated antipathy arises from the fact that those identified as the 9/11 terrorists called themselves Muslims – Muslims who were linked to al-Qaeda – the terrorist organization founded by Osama Bin Laden, a one-time beneficiary of CIA aid who himself was assassinated earlier this year by U.S. Special Forces troops in Pakistan.

A few days before the tenth 9/11 anniversary, Reza Choudhury stood outside that Muslim mosque on Brick Lane decrying the demonizing of Islam since 9/11.

Choudhury blamed the news media and politicians in America, Britain and elsewhere for much of that demonization.

“Before 9/11 most people did not even know the word Islam…now they think Muslim means terrorist,” said Choudhury, who is from Bangladesh, a predominately Muslim country bordering India.

Bangladesh is far from Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of most of the men the U.S. identified as the 9/11 terrorists who perished in those New York City, DC and PA attacks.

Choudhury, like fellow Bangladesh native Rahman, worships at the Brick Lane Jamme Masjid, which interestingly was a Jewish synagogue for over seventy years until 1976, when it became a mosque. Christians, Jews and now Muslims have utilized the building as a place of worship continuously since 1744.

A curious angle regarding the media complicity in attacks on Islam is that media outlets in America and Britain belonging to the empire of News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch are integral players in the demonization of Islam.

Murdoch is currently mired in a major scandal in Britain arising from revelations that his employees illegally hacked into emails and voicemails of private citizens in Britain to gain news scoops, including invasive “scoops” concerning the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Britain’s Parliament is now reexamining revelations that Murdoch’s son, who runs his British media empire, provided misleading testimony about the scandal to Parliamentary investigators.

A facet revealed by the hacking scandal is the cozy relations Murdoch has cultivated and maintains with top British leaders.

Current Prime Minister David Cameron had hired a top editor from one of Murdoch’s scandal-tainted newspapers as his press secretary in the wake of a previous hacking controversy. Murdoch gave Cameron’s campaign for the Prime Minister an unprecedented personal endorsement.

Earlier this month the British media ran reports that a previous Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is the godfather of one of Murdoch’s young children.

Prime Minister Cameron, addressing the tenth anniversary of 9/11, termed violent Islamic terrorism a cancer that had to be dealt with.

Bob Dog, a Canadian resident visiting London on 9/11, questioned the official American government accounts of the Twin Towers collapsing solely from the airplane impacts.

“When that first happened something didn’t seem right to me about the way those buildings fell. Now after studying, I’m convinced the official story is wrong,” Dog said, refusing to provide his real last name claiming fear of employment retaliation for questioning official dogma.

Dog was interviewed at London’s famous Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, the fabled site for vigorous debates…where rants often supplant reason.

Omar Ali, a Muslim from Pakistan and a person speaking at Speaker’s Corner, said the Koran, the Islamic holy book, specifically bans unjust killing.

“I Chapter 5, Verse 32 Allah says if anyone kills a person unjustly it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity,” Ali said. “We have no right to put a bomb on a bus or airplane to kill anyone white, brown, black or Christian.”

On Monday, September 5th, a massive sculpture constructed of steel recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City was unveiled in London’s historic Battersea Park.

This 28-foot high artwork is made of mangled metal from the Towers and is entitled “After 9/11.”

Britain is the only country in Europe to receive steel from the World Trade Center Towers.

This sculpture is not a memoria,l emphasizes the man who spear-headed the project to secure the steel and have the sculpture created, London resident Peter Rosengard.

“This is about life and the future. This is a part of an educational project, because I want young people learning about this so it doesn’t happen again,” Rosengard said last Thursday during an interview conducted during a visit to the sculpture.

“Most young people today are learning about 9/11 from the internet that is awash in conspiracy theories.” Those conspiracy theories Rosengard refers to include opinions like Bob Dog’s–.conspiracy theories Rosengard wants to counter.

Rosengard said the sculpture is crafted from the steel left as it was sent, except for polishing one section to a shiny finish to “symbolize renewal.”

Rosengard wants to site this sculpture permanently in a central London location, but for now its park placement is a magnet, with people stumbling upon the artwork or specially traveling to see it after finding out about it from the news media.

Book author Peter Blezard rode his bicycle to Battersea Park especially to see the sculpture and touch it.

“This is an incredibly evocative lump of steel. There is something iconic about it,” said Blezard, who watched the towers fall on television while working for a London radio station in 2001.

After the Twin Towers fell, Blezard called a friend of his, the high-wire walker, who is now the only person ever to have walked a wire strung between those two skyscrapers.

“He was speechless,” recounted Blezard, who has visited Ground Zero.

Looking at the sculpture Blezard said, “From the ashes of disaster comes roses of success.”