Where were you on 9/11? If you're American and older than 20, you probably remember.
The U.S. wasn't the only country stunned by the devastating terrorist attacks, however. From Sweden to Saudi Arabia, people watched the event unfold on television; classes were cancelled, workers paused on the job to follow news coverage and families gathered try to understand what had happened.
A subreddit recently asked non-Americans how 9/11 was displayed in their countries. The answers are a grabbag of sentiments — personal and not necessarily indicative of a national or cultural mood. But they're a reminder that reverberations of the terrorist attacks were felt around the world, from Cuba and Chile to Australia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Here's what they said:
Gtexx / France
I remember that a math test was cancelled the next day, my teacher saying "we are all too shocked to study". I also remember the front page of Le Monde saying "Nous sommes tous américains" ("We are all american").
lolzfeminism / Turkey
I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. Though I was 10 at the time, I remember watching the chaos at Ground Zero on TV. I remember a lot of footage of search & rescue looking for survivors in the rubble. This may be a false memory, but I vaguely recall being really scared when I saw a crying woman being helped by Firemen on TV. I think it was the thought being stuck under rubble that scared me. There was speculation that the US would start a war with Afghanistan. For the next two weeks all news channels talked about 9/11, Bush, Taliban and Al-Qaeda 100% of the time.
The coverage universally condemned Al-Qaeda and offered sympathy to the loved ones of the victims. I remember at least one interview on TV in the following days with a Turkish muslim cleric who was condemning Al-Qaeda, saying that what they did had no place in Islam.
I recall feeling some sort of shame inside, like I was guilty by association; these people who shared my religion had done something horrible.
When I went to school the next day, our teacher took some time to talk about how deplorable Al-Qaeda was. Someone asked if the US was going invade Turkey and our teacher assured us that we were safe, even if the US invaded Afghanistan and that the US would never invade Turkey.
Safiro8261 / Cuba
Cuban here. I was at school and in the second grade. I remember everybody turning on the tvs in the classrooms to watch the live news. It was one of the few times I saw the government not critizicing the US and actually feeling some sort of sympathy. Soon after, though, the cuban government started using the attacks and the US reaction as another excuse to criticize the US. From that moment on most of our daily international news were on the American invasion to Afghanistan.
rinmic / Germany
All major German TV channels stopped any planned program for hours and reported live from the scene. Think like a non stop news show. One German news anchor (channel was RTL) got an award later on I think for managing to be composed and keeping people updated on whats going on for literally hours.
The event stayed in the news for the next weeks, but normal programming was resumed the next day outside of news shows.
I don't remember what the news specifically talked about, but I do know that in my high school, we immediately started discussing political implications the next day. I vividly remember my math teacher (also political sciences teacher) asking if we thought this would lead into an armed conflict. I said yes, I am 100% convinced it will, whilst she thought it would not. Kinda sucked to be right I guess.
thr0w2w2y / US-born Palestinian
I was 11. Pretty much everyone in the village was happy about it. My dad was filled with smiles. People were giving candy to each other in the city. It was a topic of discussion for a few months. I'm sorry, but at that time I was happy about it too. Everyone viewed it as a "defeat" to the U.S and indirectly a defeat to Israel. America has been indiscriminately aiding Israel with weapons and grenades that I witnessed with my own eyes injuring friends and family. Why would people NOT be happy about it?
I grew up. Views changed. It was a tragic event and I'm sorry that I celebrated the death of innocents.
P.S: I'm a U.S born Palestinian. And now live in the U.S.
IranianGenius / Iran
In Iran, there were candlelight vigils all over the country. There was a moment of silence at a soccer game as well. The way I remember, they focused mostly on the loss of life; innocent people clearly never deserve a fate like that.
Ali812 / Saudi Arabia
I've posted this story in a previous 9/11 thread but I'll post it again.
I was in Saudi Arabia (birthplace of Osama bin Laden) on 9/11. I was in grade 6 at the time. I should also state that I am of Indian ethnicity and immigrated to Canada in 2003.
My dad was watching the news when it happened and I saw the second plane crash on TV and as someone of about age 12 I thought it was part of a trailer of a movie. It hit me pretty hard when my dad told me that what I just saw actually happened and hundreds of people just died. A lot happened that day, different reactions from different people. The school I attended was part of a private school board focused on international studies so several of my teachers and fellow students were American. We held an assembly to acknowledge this tragic event, kids made posters, drawings, brought flowers to remember the victims. A couple of the staff members had lost loved ones on 9/11 so the entire tragedy felt real to everyone.
Of course, due to living in Saudi Arabia, some of the locals had a more positive and happy reaction to 9/11, something they did not mind displaying in public. They would hold their celebrations in front of our school, it hurt us all especially people in our school who lost loved ones.
TL;DR was in grade 6 in Saudi Arabia in an international school, while students and faculty got together in a school assembly, the locals decided they would celebrate their "victory" in front of our school.
CorsarioNero / Chile
I'm from Chile, and while our local press did continuous coverage, it wasn't with any specific focus on anything, save for the occasional 'we found a Chilean in New York who can tell us about what's happening on the ground'.
The surreal part for me was that our cable TV started replacing almost every international channel with whatever US media they could get their hands on. Watching MTV Latino turn into a live, untranslated feed of a New York FOX affiliate was incredibly strange, and it has never happened again, for any global event. Same with Fox TV and Sony Latin, which mostly broadcast sitcoms and movies. The attack was literally in every channel.
The way these US channels were reporting the news was so unknown to us, that by 2 or 3 pm I really felt like there was a chance of some ICBMs being launched… it was scary on a global level.
Shelleywarwick / Australia
Well at the time I worked in a large Australian supermarket, the largest in the country. As the event was unfolding, the coverage was just unprecedented. The supermarket that day was completely empty. I have never seen anything like it before or after. The staff stood glued to TV screens. A phrase that stuck with me was one of the commentators saying "well one thing is for certain, life as we know it is over." Which was very true. At first the coverage was unsure of what was going on, but when the realization that t was an act of terror sunk in, it was more of a feeling of disbelief. It took a little while for the media coverage to turn from the immediate events to looking forward and analyzing the actual impact of the events. EDIT more info Well personally my first thoughts were for my cousin, she is a New Yorker. I was coming on shift at 5am, I can't remember what time Australian the attacks occurred. Customers started to come in in the morning but some left discarded trolleys of food and just went home to watch the coverage. By 8am the store was empty and stayed that way all day. The reason that the commentators comment sticks with me today, is that as a 20year old, I truly didn't understand what he obviously did, the way aviation and anti-terrorism measures etc would change. Also, the feeling that "if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere" was very strong here. We led a very charmed existence before 9/11. It was also my first real exposure to the idea that people we don't even know, could want to kill us! To me that was very sobering.
Note: some comments were edited for length.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.