Atika Shubert: In London, a 9/11 event both solemn and confrontational
A member of the English Defence League shouts at Muslim extremist protesters near London's Grosvenor Square.
September 11th, 2011
04:16 PM ET

Atika Shubert: In London, a 9/11 event both solemn and confrontational

The memorial for British victims of 9/11 stands in London's Grosvenor Square at the far end of a quiet park directly across from the U.S. Embassy.

There you can find the names of the 67 British victims who lost their lives in the attacks. A set of wooden pillars stands with these words carved above them: "Grief is the price we pay for love."

On Sunday, families of those victims gathered at Grosvenor Square. Prince Charles attended with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Prime Minister David Cameron also came. They laid wreaths at the memorial and later took the time to speak with the families over scones and finger sandwiches. At the memorial, a white rose was laid for each of the 67 British victims.

The ceremony was marred somewhat by two competing protests. Muslims Against Crusades, the radical Islamic group led by Anjem Choudary, arrived shortly before the ceremony full of fiery speeches. There were fewer than 100 with him but their chants of "USA you will pay!" could still be heard over the music that played as families began arriving.

The far-right, anti-Islamic group the English Defence League also turned up to counter Muslims Against Crusades. Brandishing the American and British flags, English Defence League supporters sang songs and hurled abuse at the Muslim extremists protesting nearby. Police kept them separated with police vans.

There was a brief flurry when London Mayor Boris Johnson unexpectedly showed up and decided to enter the square through the protests. He was shouted at by both groups.  As the mayor attempted to hustle his wife, Marina Wheeler, through the security barrier, one of the protesters from Muslims Against Crusades appeared to poke him with the end of a flagpole, prompting a quick response from police.

Despite all that, both groups made a relatively orderly departure by the time the ceremony was under way, leaving the park relatively quiet.

But the thing I'll remember most about the ceremony on Sunday won't be the solemn dignity of the families that attended or the undignified presence of two opposing groups attempting to capitalize on the sad event. It will be the conversation I heard between two teenagers on my way to the ceremony.

Discussing the heavy police presence in the area, one said to the other, ""All these demonstrations are for 9/11, innit?" The response: "Yeah? What happened on 9/11?"

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Filed under: Anti-Islam • Islam • September 11 • Terrorism • United Kingdom • World
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. oh my

    Oh my

    September 12, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. H.R.HUFFINSTUFF.

    What a group of doo doo eaters. You should eat more poop,so it does'nt pile up here ,and waist our time having to read your wishy wash Poo is good for your hearts . Oh you don't have hearts. just eat doodoo.Ok?

    September 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. H.R.HUFFINSTUFF.

    Those right wing doodoo eaters are at it again. Slinging their anti muslim poo, and giving real heros bad name .Get a clue haters ,get a clue and eat my poo. haha . I made a ryme,a doo doo to you.

    September 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Islam radical

    I trolltaly agree with H.R.Huffinstuff,poopie Americans get a clue get a clue ,and eat poo .And maybe try some glue .

    September 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ben Dover

    Come on CNN , Give us some real news.You'er front page is nothing but speculation. Fighter jets are sent out because suspcition about people in the bathroom too long ,thats not news . You throw out "headlines" and have no information about details why. Why do all news station leave us hanging on your last words? And then see page two and it is one sentence! u suk.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick James

    Cocaine is one he'll of a drug

    September 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Basil

    Can you all handle a serious comment? I attend the 9/11 memorial service in Grosvenor Square Park on every anniversary and sometimes more, to say prayers and shed tears for those murdered and their families.

    The Muslims approached the park just before 10 years on from when Flight AA11, a Boeing 767-223 hit the North tower.

    To interrupt the innocent victims' families' most precious moment with taunts of, "USA, You will pay!" is heinous in my book.

    I'm against the EDL as much as anybody, but I was pleased that the Muslim extremist nutters had British extremist nutters to remind them that others in this country also have a right to express their opinions -and that even at their worst, practise the Koran teaching of not hurting innocents.

    What I don't understand is why no Muslims were arrested for burning the American flag on such a painful day, yet the EDL had been warned that burning a Koran would be dealt with as incitement of racial violence.

    I'd thought the extremes of political correctness were behind us, especially as criminal law is supposed to be applied equally to all.

    My best friend happens to be a Muslim. She has no more problem keeping to the principles of the New Testament than she does of the Koran. As Jesus and Mohammed demanded, her heart is full of love, not hatred.

    For 9/11 to be truly put behind us, will we have to wait for an Israeli city to be nuked before we can rein in the extremists on all sides and teach at least one generation that tolerance and forgiveness achieve more than intolerance and hatred?

    September 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
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