Saturday, September 11, 2010

US marks 9/11 anniversary

The Tribute in Light shines above the World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline. -- PHOTO: AP

NEW YORK - REMEMBRANCE ceremonies, marred by global tensions over a Florida pastor's threat to burn the Quran, were to take place on Saturday in New York and at the Pentagon on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The rituals honouring the nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept 11, 2001, when Islamist terrorists flew hijacked planes into the defence headquarters and New York's World Trade Center towers, unfold almost unchanged each year.

In New York at Ground Zero the names of the 2,752 victims who died there are read out against a background of sombre music, with moments of silence marking the times when the two airliners slammed into the Twin Towers - and again when the towers collapsed.

President Barack Obama was to attend the memorial service at the Pentagon, while Vice President Joseph Biden was to be in New York. A third service was taking place in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the fourth hijacked airliner crashed into a field.

This year the dignified and simple events are overshadowed by a row over a renegade Florida pastor's threat to publicly burn hundreds of Qurans on Saturday if plans are not dropped for a proposed mosque near Ground Zero.

The pastor, Terry Jones, seemed to have abandoned his Koran-burning plan by Friday after pleas from President Barack Obama, the Vatican and several other world leaders warning of a catastrophe for Western-Muslim relations. However, tensions remained high and Mr Jones's stunt ensured that the related controversy over the proposed Ground Zero mosque took centre stage. -- AFP

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