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A YEAR AFTER: THE WORLD

Global Mood Reflects a Growing Gap

Reaction: While many join the U.S. in grieving over its loss, others offer a stark reminder of how deep anti-Americanism runs. In a Moscow poll, 53% say attacks were 'deserved.'

September 12, 2002|SEBASTIAN ROTELLA and MICHAEL SLACKMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The world joined the United States on Wednesday in remembering the horror and recognizing the repercussions of Sept. 11.

People in many nations mourned the loss of lives and of an image of the United States that had perhaps been an illusion.

"America for many was the place where dreams get fulfilled, a place where people thought nothing bad can happen," said Katarzyna Lasocik, 39, a Polish marketing manager who paid her respects at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. "This feeling was crushed."

But the grief was not unanimous. The anniversary juxtaposed sorrow about the past with fear of the future, admiration for American values with distrust of American power.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 24, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 10 inches; 370 words Type of Material: Correction
Embassy--A Sept. 12 article in Section A inaccurately reported that the U.S. Embassy in Muscat, Oman, was closed Sept. 11. The embassy was open to the public during normal working hours and hosted a commemorative event for more than 200 Omani and American guests on Sept. 11.

The day was a reminder of how much America's enemies hate the U.S. : Extremists at a London mosque connected with Al Qaeda held a baleful celebration they billed as "A Towering Day in History."

The global mood Wednesday was edgy and ambivalent. It reflected a growing distance between the United States and the rest of the world. Even among some U.S. allies, solidarity and sympathy mixed with alarm about what is seen as a disastrous rush toward war with Iraq.

There were, of course, heartfelt gestures. Thousands of Australian drivers turned on their headlights in tribute to the dead at 8:46 a.m., the moment when the first plane struck the first tower in New York. Milan fashion designers and race car drivers played a benefit soccer game to raise money for the victims and survivors.

The emotions in Britain, which lost 67 citizens in the World Trade Center, came closest to the outpouring in the United States. Memorials filled churches, offices, fire stations and town squares. Television and radio stations provided nonstop coverage of events in New York and London. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cabinet ministers, Prince Charles and Prince Harry joined about 2,000 people at a service in London's St. Paul's Cathedral.

U.S. Ambassador William S. Farish thanked the British government and people, calling them "America's truest friends."

Lt. Frank Dwyer of the New York Police Department presented British Home Secretary David Blunkett with a bedraggled British flag found by New York police officers as they scrabbled through the rubble of the World Trade Center looking for survivors.

"This flag, torn and tattered, still may be flown and is a rich symbol of the endurance and strength of the British people and the pain and agony that they went through that day," Dwyer said. "This flag belongs to this land."

The tone was different in lands such as Saudi Arabia, a nominal U.S. ally that has come under suspicion since Sept. 11. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi nationals, and Saudis are accused of funneling millions of dollars to Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks in the guise of charitable contributions.

Saudi Arabia found itself in the awkward position Wednesday of feeling both like a victim and a suspect, of wanting sympathy and offering condolences. Young men in cafes in downtown Riyadh, the capital, said they understood American anger toward their country--up to a point.

"I don't blame America for the way it reacted, because I understand the way America perceived what happened," said Mishari Saud, 21. But he complained that Americans have "lumped us all into one boat."

"People trusted America so much, they would fight for America," said Abdullah, 40, a businessman who said he lived five years in the United States. "Now we all feel cheated."

Tension hung over Riyadh and the region. U.S. embassies in neighboring Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were closed for security reasons. U.S. military bases were on their highest state of alert.

Chagrined Saudis have shown signs of confronting their problems. The kingdom announced this week that it will set up an agency dedicated to monitoring the work and cash flow of charitable organizations--though officials persist in denying that the donations end up in the hands of terrorists.

In a letter to President Bush, Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of the country, said: "We in Saudi Arabia felt an especially great pain at the realization that a number of young Saudi citizens had been enticed and deluded.... They allowed themselves to be used as a tool to do great damage to Islam, a religion they espoused, and to all Muslims."

Other Muslims in the region disagreed. Asked about Osama bin Laden, Naima Mohammed, a Palestinian shopper in East Jerusalem wearing a head covering and traditional embroidered dress, showed off two prominent gold teeth as she smiled.

"He's a good Muslim and a hero," said Mohammed, 60.

A senior political leader of Hamas, the radical Islamic organization in the Gaza Strip, said he was happy about the long-term effect of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Weak nations and oppressed people got the proof that they too can stand up against military might," said Abdulaziz Rantisi. "This will increase Arab revolutionary thinking."

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