Friday, 9 September 2011

9/11 - The Forgotten Victims

The cliche is correct - everyone remembers where they were when they learned of 9/11. I was walking into an Ealing pub after school with a friend who told me how he'd heard that some terrorists in New York had let off a bomb in the World Trade Centre. Once in the pub, we saw it was much worse than that. Like most of the world, all of us in the pub stood and watched the planes crash into the two towers (and their subsequent collapse) over and over again. It was almost as if we were all hypnotised by events. Yet, even at the time, I had the feeling that it was all a monstrously successful "come on" - a provocation.
 Well, as we know, the reaction was not long in coming, and the counterreactions soon happened as well. The USA, rightly incensed at the attack on its territory, set out to thrash Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq - as we know. This, in turn, led to further terrorist attacks such as those in Bali, Madrid and 7/7 in London. Osama Bin Laden is now dead, slain by a small group of elite spooks.But, we know all that, and I don't intend to dwell upon it.
As the 10th anniversary of this appalling atrocity approaches, the focus of America's attention will be upon the memorial service on Sunday, in order to mourn the 3000 dead of 9/11. This is entirely correct, and I certainly would not wish to criticise it. Some people, though, equally correctly, point out that The US and UK "coalition" has killed far more people in Iraq and Afghanistan than the number who perished in New York on 9/11. Wikileaks puts the number as high as 111, 937 Iraqi civilians. According to the Guardian, no-one is keeping a precise count of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. And of course, there will be no service of remembrance for Iraqis and Afghans.
But there is another group of 9/11 victims that no-one sees fit to mention. These are the innocent victims of post-9/11 backlash who felt the anger of people in the USA and the UK. There was the Sikh petrol pump attendant in the USA who was shot dead by a bunch of rednecks because he looked like Osama Bin Laden. A Somali girl in my class at that time told me how her auntie, living in America, had been stoned and chased by a crowd for" looking Muslim".
Over here, a bunch of thugs showed their "solidarity" with the USA by beating up an Afghan taxi driver in Acton, West London. The taxi driver was left paralysed.
A Muslim man, whose own daughter had died on 9/11, was subjected to a racist attack by two girls.
Muslim pupils in UK schools reported numerous cases of bullying and harassment.
There were many such incidents in the UK and the US, and the ugly term "Islamophobia" became a commonly used word in the English language.
It hardly needs to be said that there will be no ceremonies for this group of victims, either.


  1. The Wikileaks estimate that 111,937 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the invasion is at the low end of the scale. The highest estimates include a Lancet survey 5 years ago which put the figure at more than 600,000, and a survey in 2007 by Opinion Research Business (an independent polling agency in London) which estimated the number of deaths at 1.2 million. There have of course been more deaths since both those estimates.

    Using these estimates, the number of Iraqi deaths for each person killed on 9/11 ranges from 37 to 400.

    I completely understand your point about the forgotten victims - along with the Iraqi dead, they're being swept under the carpet. Consequently I find the blanket coverage of the 9/11 anniversary alone, without reference to these other deaths which are far greater in number, nauseatingly hypocritical.

    The crime of 9/11 does not justify the greater (in numerical terms) crime of the Iraq invasion.

  2. As for when I heard about 9/11, I know I was at work, but I don't recall how I learned about the bombings. So perhaps everyone but me ...