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Sunday, December 03, 2023

Students across the world react to terrorist's death

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Nearly 4,000 miles away from Washington, D.C., as people gathered outside the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, there were no loud cries of relief or retribution.

Reactions ranged from fear to disappointment, according to students in foreign countries. One UF student understood the emotions, but didn't understand the celebratory tone.

"It's a way of getting closure for the pain that was caused in 9/11, but in the end, it's still an eye for an eye," said Sixtine Gurrey, a third-year journalism student studying in Paris at L'Institut d'Études Politiques. "And I don't think anyone wins."

Gurrey, 21, said it was already May 2 in Paris as the news of bin Laden's death broke in the U.S. Her day began with a news alert via email from The New York Times.

As images of elated Americans in Washington, D.C., and New York City flashed on the news, she became anxious about possible retaliatory attacks, both in the United States and France. The security increase in Paris was immediate, she said. Just a few blocks from where she lives, Gurrey saw more guards on patrol around national monuments like the Arc du Triomphe and the Champs Elysees.

"Maybe I would've been celebrating in the States, but here they try to analyze more things," she said. "I saw more of the questioning side."

For one UF alumnus now living in China, the news that Americans were celebrating bin Laden's death in the streets was downright disturbing.

"We need only celebrate justice, not murder, and if this brings peace to his victims and their families, then that is justice to celebrate," Nate Stein, 23, of Orlando, said in an e-mail.

Ed Pitcher, 21, a student of history and politics at the University of Nottingham in England, said cultural differences between England and the United States account for different reactions in the two countries. While a more emotional brand of patriotism is ingrained into American society, the English, he said, are more reserved.

"Even if we'd had 9/11 in this country, even if 100,000 people had died, we wouldn't have had that," Pitcher said of the celebrations outside the White House.

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