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Saturday, 10 September 2011

10 years on – a personal reflection

Picture: Time Magazine
On 9/11, 2001 I was at home – ill. I was watching television when the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers. It surely must have been a terrible accident, I thought. When the second plane flew into the building, minutes later, it was clear that it was not a tragic human failure but a deliberate act of terrorism.
I remember people jumping out of windows into certain death, desperately trying to escape the raging fire. I recall people covered in blood, dust and tears. It was almost as if I could feel their pain, physically, behind my television screen. It felt as if the terrorists had raped the very meaning of humanity, compassion and love.
I was only 14 years old; too young and too innocent to fully grasp the consequences of the atrocity. I could not see what possibly could have provoked so much hatred, bitterness and violence. But I nevertheless sensed that things would never be the same again and that, whatever it was, this had profoundly changed our world forever.
Ten years on, I have fully absorbed the impact 9/11 had on our way of life and things have indeed never been the same ever since.  This was not an attack on America. It was an attack on us – the free world – on everything we stand for.
On balance, the West has responded accurately and effectively. Some more than others have restlessly tried to ensure that our values are not being compromised by death-worshipping Islamic fascists.
In particular, our armed forces and, above all, those fine young men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq – preserving our freedom, our democracy, our liberty – deserve praise more than anyone else.
We must stop apologising for our own position. We did not cause 9/11 and we did not give rise to the ideology and narrative represented by Al Qaida, based on the perversion of Islam. We have to be confident and prepared for a generation-long struggle. This battle is far from over but it is too fundamental to allow a defeat.
Osama Bin Laden once said that the West’s problem is to find people willing to die for our values, while his problem is to hold back people willing to die for his.
We must prove him wrong – let this be the memorial for all those innocents who died on 9/11, 2001.

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