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SLUG: 2-293948 World React/Sept. 11 (L)









INTRO: The anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States was commemorated worldwide from Tokyo to London, Kabul to Johannesburg, and many places in between (on Wednesday). In some places, the day was also marked by increased security alerts, and elsewhere apparent indifference. V-O-A's Al Pessin reports from London on September 11th around the world.


As the day began in Asia, traditional gongs were sounded at several ceremonies, including this one at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. But elsewhere in Asia, there was little official recognition of the anniversary, aside from ceremonies at several U-S Embassies.

/// OPT /// Some parts of Asia were under increased security alerts, after U-S officials warned of possible terrorist car bomb attacks. More than a dozen U-S Embassies and consulates were closed around the world, including those in Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. /// END OPT ///

/// OPT /// There was no official ceremony in China, but on Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesman said the September 11th attacks reminded the world that terrorism is the common enemy of humanity. /// END OPT ///

At dawn in Afghanistan, U-S soldiers at Bagram Air Base, on the front lines of the war against terrorism, raised the American flag as usual, and then lowered it to half-staff to honor those who died in the attacks a year ago. Spokesman Colonel Roger King says the soldiers take pride in the fact that the U-S-led assault on al-Qaida terror bases in Afghanistan has restored life to normal for most of the country's people.

/// KING ACT ///

In the majority of Afghanistan, there is no war. Now, there are other areas of the country where that may not be exactly so. This is still a combat zone. But, by and large, the country has got enough stability to where people feel they can go about their daily business.

/// END ACT ///

As if to illustrate Colonel King's words, a gunman fired a shot at the Bagram base Wednesday morning, but no one was injured. Soldiers wounded the gunman and arrested him.

Elsewhere around the world, the focus was on commemorating the dead and honoring the heroes of September 11th.


These are schoolgirls in Nairobi, singing at a memorial ceremony on Wednesday. The song, called God Is Our Refuge and Strength, was written by an American living in Kenya (Paul Basler) to commemorate the September 11th attacks.

The Nairobi ceremony was particularly poignant. The city's U-S Embassy was the target of a terrorist bombing in 1998 that killed 214 people. /// OPT /// Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri told the gathering, it is important to show solidarity in fighting terrorism, mourning its victims and consoling its survivors.


This occasion should remind mankind that terrorism knows no boundaries, knows no race and knows no religion. Consequently, all peace-loving nations should come together, and fight against the evil of terrorism, in order to make the world a safer place now and in the future.

/// END ACT ///

That theme was repeated over and over across the world. /// END OPT ///

In Saudi Arabia, Defense Minister Prince Sultan pledged to continue working with the United States to fight terrorism, which he said goes against Islamic values. A government spokesman in Iran called the September 11th attacks appalling, and said the roots of terrorism must be eliminated.


And at a ceremony in Moscow, where a choir sang a classical Russian song called Quiet Light, U-S Ambassador Alexsander Vershbow spoke to a gathering of people from many religions


We have invited clergy from many different faiths today, because we have all recognized that no religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or any of the other creeds that we profess, countenances terrorism or the murder of innocents.

/// END ACT ///

/// OPT /// There were particularly large ceremonies in the Baltic States, where crowds gathered at church services and concerts, and many people laid flowers, and lit candles outside U-S Embassies. /// END OPT ///

/// OPT /// In Brussels, European Commission President Romano Prodi said the September 11th attacks were a brutal reminder that peace, security and democracy cannot be taken for granted, but rather must be defended every day. /// END OPT ///

One of the largest ceremonies of the day was here in London.


Two thousand people gathered at St. Paul's cathedral for a memorial service, including Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Reverend Philip Buckler opened the service.


We come to commemorate innocent lives cut short by the devastation of that day, and to light a candle of hope to honor their memory.

/// END ACT ///

At the service, and at many other places across Britain and around the world, people observed a minute of silence at the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center a year ago. Trading was halted on the London stock exchange.

But one of the most moving ceremonies was also one of the smallest, and was also in London. At the small chapel at Heathrow Airport, employees of the two airlines whose planes were hijacked last year gathered to pay their respects to their murdered colleagues and passengers. Joined by other airport workers, staff members from United and American Airlines paused to mourn the dead, and then returned to work, much as they did a year ago. (Signed)


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