Ten years after the world was rocked by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the effects of the terrifying events, watched in horror by people all over the globe, can still be seen and felt today.
The attacks led to huge levels of distrust between different races and religions, and have made life particularly difficult for people who are often misunderstood, discriminated against and sometimes hated simply because of their religious beliefs.
However, a lot of work has been carried out to improve relations and to build mutual understanding of different cultures, and efforts to promote peace have been ongoing since the attacks.
September 11, 2001 was one of the most significant moments in world history, and represented a moment that no one could possibly forget. Gulf Times spoke to a number of residents in Qatar to ask where they were when they heard the news, how they remembered events unfolding, and how they feel the events of 10 years ago have changed the world.
“I remember watching the news on the day and just being in complete shock,” said British expatriate Tim, adding “it was unbelievable like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster.”
“The pictures were horrifying and it must have been dreadful for the people caught up in the attacks. My heart goes out to them and their families. Something like that must be terrible for a family to try and get over,” he added.
Others expressed similar sentiments, describing their shock at the television footage on the day, and their sadness at watching so many people lose their lives. “It was absolutely horrible,” said US expatriate Jess, who noted “luckily none of my family or friends were affected, but I felt so shocked and upset to see what was happening to people there.”
“Some of the TV pictures, the sound recordings of people stuck inside and the other coverage was so shocking and scary, it really upset me to see and hear people suffering like that,” she added.
Shock, upset and anger were common threads of peoples’ reactions to the violence, and the despair of the nation and the world led to a highly emotional time.
Many said that they found it hard to believe the attacks took place 10 years ago because of how vivid their memories of the time remain.
“It seems much more recent than that,” said Mike, an American, adding “maybe because it is still so clear in my mind because of how shocking it was, it feels like it wasn’t that long ago, but ten years is a long time.”
For others the terrible events of that day, led to major personal reflection and changes in their lives. “I hope that things are getting better, and people are not as scared of each other as they have been in the past ten years,” said British expat, Robert, adding “the world definitely changed for the worse that day, but hopefully efforts to make it better again are paying off.”
“It was a devastating time for everyone and so many people were put through terrible pain and suffering, but the way people came together to help each other and try and recover from the attacks was inspirational,” he added.
Others said the same, explaining that the international response, and especially the response amongst the American people, was heartwarming and helped to restore faith in humanity after an event that placed it firmly in the balance.
Watching the work of firefighters, police officers and medical staff at Ground Zero was amazing, and many Americans expressed pride at the way the rescue workers carried out their work at such a difficult time.
The sense of togetherness and strong solidarity shown for the victims and those affected by the attacks were definitely two of the positive things to emerge from such a horrific event, but the negative aspects of 9/11 have been more obvious to everyone around the world.
Security issues have been brought to the forefront of international travel, with heightened awareness and numerous checks now involved for people passing through airports and other travel hubs.
This has significantly affected people of Arabic origin, who often feel unfairly persecuted while travelling. Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed, who has visited Qatar on numerous occasions over the past two years, spoke about the issues related to security on his travels during an interview with Gulf Times when he was last here.
He joked about the difficulties he has experienced since 9/11 because of his name, pointing out that he has often been inconvenienced because of heightened suspicion of Muslims around the world and especially in the US. General mistrust has developed partly as a result of the events of 10 years ago, and a number of people highlighted the ignorance that can be seen when reading online comment boards or blogs, where people often express their feelings about other religious beliefs and cultures.
This general ignorance and lack of understanding is an unfortunate result of the attacks, and is often met with frustration from residents and expatriates alike, who possess knowledge of various cultures having been exposed to different people from all over the world.
Through dialogue and various cultural initiatives, a number of which have been launched by institutions such as the American Embassy in Doha and Qatar Foundation, people are learning more about cultures of which they would otherwise be unaware.
After the instant devastation and chaos caused by the attacks, the cultural misconceptions and misunderstanding are the more far-reaching and longstanding consequences of 9/11.
People in Qatar have expressed their hope that the tragic events of this day 10 years ago, are never seen on anything of a similar scale again.
Today is a time when people around the world get the opportunity to remember those that lost their lives a decade ago, and to encourage authorities and governments to do everything in their power to ensure that an earth-shattering event as 9/11 remains a part of the past, and not the future.
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