Sympathy, some resentment expressed by world

Thursday, September 12, 2002


MOSCOW -- The world marked last year's attacks Wednesday with widespread sympathy and remembrances for other past terrorist acts, as well as warnings about persistent global injustice and, in some cases, resentment of the one nation that remains more powerful than any other.

Shared sorrow took many forms as it leapt across time zones. It assumed the shape of white carnations that choirgirls handed to the American ambassador at an Orthodox church service in Moscow, illuminated the headlights that Australian drivers turned on at 8:46 a.m., and became silence during a two-minute halt to trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Where terrorist violence has struck in recent years, the feelings also reflected local pain, inflicted on other dates. Hundreds attended a memorial service in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, where 219 people were killed and 5,000 wounded in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombing of the American embassy. That attack, like those a year ago, was by Islamic extremists loyal to Osama bin Laden.

"Kenyans can sympathize with the victims of Sept. 11," said Sam Ongeri, the health minister of the East African nation.

But while nearly 500 foreigners from 91 countries died in the attacks in America, the United States itself is regarded with complicated emotions, which was evident even close to its own borders Wednesday, where the clampdown on traffic has made it increasingly difficult for Mexican workers to cross into the United States for work.

"Mexicans do the jobs in the United States that nobody else wants, but since Sept. 11, we've been treated like terrorists," said Eric Vasquez, 32, a Mexico City delivery man who has several relatives in the United States. "So why should we help the United States wage its anti-terrorist wars?" At least 17 Mexicans died in the attacks, but a poll published in the respected El Universal newspaper Wednesday found that the country is split almost equally on whether Mexico should cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism.

And with the Bush administration trying to rally global support for an armed overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, even commiseration at times arrived wrapped with other messages.

"What has happened in the U.S. is terrible," said Ahmed al-Khatib, 40, a municipal gardener in the West Bank town of Ramallah, who was tending a garden during the brief lifting of the Israeli-imposed curfew of his town. "It is the same thing that happened in Ramallah and the other Palestinian cities.

"We are against terrorism in all of its forms," said al-Khatib. "But even what happened on Sept. 11 did not give the right to the Americans to wage an aggressive war against Afghanistan and to kill many civilians or to interfere in their interior political agenda. And they don't have the right to attack Iraq and to change the regime in Iraq."

In Israel, meanwhile, many Israelis said they were deeply moved by the anniversary, but there remains a feeling that it took the terrorist attacks of a year ago to make Americans realize what Israelis feel they face all the time from Palestinian militants.

"Commemorating 9-11 is an important thing," said Yossie Levy, 40, a Jerusalem municipal worker who was browsing through a street fair in downtown Jerusalem at a spot that has been hit by many suicide bombings. "It hurts me very much that the Americans had to go through such a hell in which so many died cruelly and tragically. But we Israelis experience this daily. We all need to identify with the victims, whoever and wherever they are."

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