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The Boston Marathon bombing: Reactions from around the world
America's friends express an outpouring of sympathy. Its enemies react with undisguised glee
A man carries newspapers in London on April 16.
A man carries newspapers in London on April 16. AP Photo/Sang Tan
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round the world, foreign leaders have roundly condemned the deadly bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Ordinary citizens overseas are, by and large, also expressing sympathy for the victims. And America's enemies are, well, gloating. Here, a sampling of the world's reaction:

Pakistan's Foreign Office said the country's government and people are "deeply shocked and saddened" by what it called a despicable act of terrorism. Afghan President Hamid Karzai also denounced the attack, saying the Afghan people feel deep sympathy for the victims because they have experienced firsthand "the pain and suffering arising from such incidents." India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, offered his country's help in investigating the bombing, and expressed "solidarity with the American people in the struggle against terrorism."

Roger Robinson says in Britain's Guardian that one of the things that makes the carnage so shocking is that it occurred at an event that is essentially a 26-mile display of positivity and celebration of the human spirit. "I'm not just being warm and fuzzy," Robinson says. "Marathon running has a long tradition of celebrating, commemorating, and affirming life." The first modern Olympic marathon, in 1896, celebrated "the man who carried the news of a victory for freedom," and the first Boston run a year later honored the ride of Paul Revere on his day, Patriots' Day.

Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It's the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It's the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It's the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city like New York or London, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy, and well-meaning. It's the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody. [Guardian]

Other foreign commentators noted that the same spirit managed to shine through in the tragedy. "In the face of chaos, came charity," say the editors of France's Le Monde. There were "runners who gave their shirts to victims, and others who continued their race to the main hospital to donate blood." The people who lived near the scene of the tragedy opened their doors, and their cupboards, to the competitors to help ease their shock and grief on what was supposed to be a triumphant day.

In many countries around the world, this kind of attack is sadly familiar. Even in Los Angeles or New York, says Alain Bauer in France's Le Figaro, the police and the public might have seen this coming. But Boston is "relatively unprepared for acts of terrorism." The capital of Massachusetts doesn't have the same international dimension that L.A. and New York share, and its "choice as a target could appear strange for international terrorists, especially during a local marathon. And since it was on Patriots' Day, it appears equally likely that the attack was orchestrated by domestic terrorists as foreign ones."

Along with the sympathy and bewilderment, however, came glee from America's enemies. The Taliban said they didn't carry out the bombing, but they supported it. The Somali Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabab mocked the dead and wounded on its English-language Twitter feed.

Critics of the U.S. in China noted in microblog posts at Weibo that the U.S. responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by going to war in Afghanistan and then Iraq, and by going after insurgent suspects with armed drones that have been blamed for killing many civilians. "After 9/11, a target for an attack was quickly found," CCTV commentator and National Development and Reform Commission researcher Yang Yu wrote (via the South China Morning Post). "This time, we don't know if and who they will attack." 

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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