The 12th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks are slated to be a less than solemn affair, as protests, counter-protests and a ‘Rethink 9/11’ ad campaign have all been scheduled to capitalize on the sacrosanct day in the US calendar.
From a 54-foot billboard in Times Square asking Americans to reconsider 9/11 to a ‘Million Muslim March’, this year’s anniversary of twin tower attacks stands out as potentially the most controversial on record.
The day began peacefully, with victims and loved ones gathering on the two-year-old Memorial Plaza in New York to hold a moment of silence at 8:46am to remember those who died when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
But an anniversary noted as a time of reflection is likely to end in confrontation this year.
The Million American March Against Fear — originally dubbed the Million Muslim March – is slated to begin at noontime on The National Mall in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.
Organizers of the event, AMPAC – The American Muslim Political Action Committee – had originally planned the event to counter the post 9/11 “victimization” of Muslims.
The event was later broadened to bring attention to the “erosion of domestic civil liberties, drone policy, illegal tapping and [surveillance]” and other civil liberties-related issues after sparking controversy following its announcement in January.
“We are not trying to be controversial,” AMPAC founder and Senate candidate MD Rabbi Alam told Metro.
“It is on this date to show solidarity for the people killed. We are Americans standing up for American values – people need to know that Muslims are being mistreated.”
Alam, however, is a known 9/11 truther who has espoused anti-Semitic conspiracy theories implying Jewish involvement in the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Meanwhile, a counter-protest under the banner of ‘2 Million Bikers to DC’ have vowed to ride through the capital despite failing to secure a permit from the National park Service (NPS).
“We apologize to DC residents, but they had plenty of time to help us with this rally,” the Washington Times cites Belinda Bee, national coordinator for the bikers rally as saying in regards to federal and local authorities. “We realized there was going to be a lot of traffic. We would have gotten through town in two hours. For some reason the powers that be in DC no longer feel Americans have the right to voice an opinion.”
The NPS for their part permitted AMPAC to gather 1,000 people for the location between 13th and 14th streets in Northwest, Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said.
Regarding the 2 million biker ride, Johnson said the nonstop ride would have required a police escort and closure of intersections and traffic lights, measures deemed to be “too disruptive…on a workday.”
“We told them we can’t stop them from using roads like anybody else, but they’d have to follow traffic laws if they come,” Ms. Johnson said, noting that politics played no part in the decision.
“Any time we get a permit application we look at our resources. It has to do with what you apply for, not the applicants,” she said.
Johnson added the march against fear permit request was received “quite a while ago,” while the motorcycle rally event was only submitted for approval on August 27.
Bee, who admitted the biker rally was intended to counter the AMPAC march, said the event was eventually broadened.
“We didn’t want a war,” she said. “No. 2, Muslims get enough attention. It’s time for America to get attention.”
In New York, the group Rethink911 is holding an event in Time Square at 5:20pm underneath its billboard, which reads “Did you know a 3rd tower fell on 9/11? World Trade Center 7, not hit by a plane, collapsed in free-fall 7 hours after the Twin Towers.”
Expected attendance to the event is unknown, although Rethink911’s Facebook page has a little over 8,185 likes. Meanwhile, 7,950 people have signed the Rethink911 International Petition for a new probe into the destruction of Building 7 and the Twin Towers.
The group, sponsored by the non-profit Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and Remember Building 7, “a campaign by 9/11 family members to raise awareness of Building 7″, raised $225,000 to finance the first round of billboards and international ads.
Monday’s event in Time Square will feature former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who became infamous for saying that then-president George W. Bush may have had advanced knowledge of the September 11 attacks and allowed them to go ahead in order to boost the profits for the Carlyle Group, an owner of defense contractors with which the Bush family had connections.
McKinney was booted from office decade ago thanks in no small part to inflammatory comments made by her father, the late former Georgia state Rep. Billy McKinney.
When asked about his daughter’s tough reelection bid, the senior Mckinney remarked “Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-e-w-s.”
Rethink911’s All-Day Rally started at 8:00am at Ground Zero.