It’s easy to forget just how much can happen in twelve months. 2011 was a truly memorable year both nationally and internationally.
Westminster Abbey played host to the major event of the year: the marriage of William and Kate at the end of April. An estimated two billion people watched the couple get married as international media descended on the capital, which inevitably resulted in some interesting interviews with the public. Then, a little over three months after the country was seemingly united in a breath of optimism came the August riots that destroyed parts of London and also spread to other major English cities.
Meanwhile, over in Northern Africa, people were making a stand over issues that were actually relevant. They wanted freedom, they wanted to vote and they wanted a voice, rather than just a 42” Plasma TV. Tunisia fell in January, Egypt followed a month later and the protests also spread to Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The battle for Syria is on-going. However, while President Ali fled and Hosni Mubarak resigned, Colonel Gaddafi made it clear that only death would end his rule – which, in October, it did as Rebel forces captured and killed him, bringing an end to his forty year reign.
On the same day as Gaddafi’s death, Basque terrorist group ETA announced an end to their campaign of political violence that has killed 800 people since 1968. Whether this will last is anyone’s guess, as ETA has previously said they will stop attacks, only to resume them later.
In December, the US announced an end to the Iraq war, bringing an end to a conflict that began with the aim of toppling Saddam Hussein. However, the biggest scalp for the US in 2011 was the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was one of those momentous events when it was difficult to believe that it had actually happened. In fact, the operation had been meticulously planned for weeks and was almost scuppered by a Tweeter who posted that it was unusually noisy in Abbottabad that night… sometimes ill-informed as to who they were fighting.
Eventually in late August, Gaddafi’s forty year reign ended – although the dictator himself was still at large. On October 20th, the dictator was found and killed by rebel fighters. Many revelled in his death, although there was a tinge of regret that he could not be trialled for his actions. On the same day, Basque terrorist group ETA announced an end to their campaign of political violence that has killed 800 people since 1968. Whether this will last is anyone’s guess, as ETA has previously said they will stop attacks, only to resume them later.
The European Crisis dominated much of the political news this year, as the leaders of the EU tried to save the single Euro currency. Portugal received a huge bailout, while Greece’s debts were reduced amidst major protests in the country. Several leaders paid the price for their country’s financial problems, the most high-profile being Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. The charismatic leader eventually resigned, but now has more time to continue his control of the media and organise more 100% legal parties…
One of the most harrowing stories of the year came from the usually quiet Norway in July. Anders Behring Breivik killed seventy six people in twin attacks, the first a car bomb in Oslo, and the second at a summer camp on the island of Utoya. Breivik gained access to the island through false identification and was dressed as a policeman. He shot randomly and callously at people, most of whom were teenagers and some of them rising political stars.
However, the most harrowing event was the earthquake and tsunami that struck the eastern coast of Japan in March. Whilst the loss of life wasn’t as significant as the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004, the footage was unbelievable, with entire towns obliterated and the power of the water simply unreal. Attention soon switched to averting a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant, with many workers risking their own lives to save others.
2011 also saw the world say goodbye to several stars. Actress Elizabeth Taylor died in March and boxer Joe Frazier died in November. There also seemed to be several stars who died before their time: Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs, Seve Ballesteros, Dan Wheldon, Marco Simoncelli and Gary Speed, the last of whom came as a huge shock to many people.