Shocked and saddened SAR mourns victims
Political and religious leaders stood hand-in-hand at a remembrance ceremony together with about 400 members of the public, including many US expats.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and US Consul-General Michael Klosson gave speeches and laid wreaths before the gathering observed a period of silence in the hour-long ceremony at City Hall organised by the American Chamber of Commerce.
Eight religious leaders from different faiths offered prayers in various languages but their message was the same - sympathy for those who perished and the desire for world peace.
Standing before ranks of national flags, Mr Tung said it was not just Americans who were touched by the tragedy and that Hong Kong was deeply shocked and saddened by the attacks.
"This is not just an American tragedy. Victims from 80 countries, including China, have been involved. Twenty from Hong Kong are still missing," Mr Tung said.
"To these families, and to those family members who are here today, I hope you are facing your tragedy with courage. These acts of terrorism have become a scourge for the entire world. We stand united, we stand squarely behind the efforts to eradicate all forms of terrorism." Hong Kong religious leaders - Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha'i and Anglican - urged believers to unite and work for peace.
Strict security was in place with every bag thoroughly searched. Some participants said it was a pity the ceremony had not been held sooner, echoing earlier criticism of the Government for not holding a memorial, while others felt the extra time gave them time to reflect.
"Having a service a few weeks after the event makes it still an immediate thing, because the people who are grieving can't put aside their grief so quickly. Their lives will be affected forever," said Barbara Thomas, 50, from San Francisco, California, who teaches English in Hong Kong.
American Stephen Lawler, regional director of a telecom company, said he, too, was impressed with the memorial service.
"It was good to see so many different faiths all stood together and [saying] this was an attack on all of us," said Mr Lawler, from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Journalist and writer Ted Thomas, who has a friend missing, said he wanted to attend the ceremony to show sympathy and support for the victims and their families.
He did not blame the SAR Government for reacting slowly. "We are not an independent sovereign state and Mr Tung might first need to consult the central Government. I don't think it is late."
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