Hong Kong protesters called off their demonstration on Wednesday to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks after the Chinese state newspaper predicted they would mark the day with terrorist attacks of their own.
Thousands of protesters have occupied the streets and other public places for months to voice their opposition to Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s sovereignty but they stopped those efforts temporarily Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the victims of 9/11.
“In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept. 11, apart from potential singing and chanting,” the protesters said in a statement obtained by Reuters.
The decision to pause demonstrations was made after the Chinese state newspaper equated the protesters to the 9/11 attackers and suggested they would employ similar tactics.
“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” the Hong Kong edition of China Daily said in a Facebook post featuring a photo of the attacks at the World Trade Center.
The protests began in response to the introduction of an extradition bill that would have allowed the Chinese authorities to extradite Hong Kong citizens suspected of crimes to face trial on the mainland.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced that she would withdraw the bill last week after temporarily suspending it in June in response to the public backlash. But the protests have grown in scope beyond opposition to the extradition bill; demonstrators are now demanding greater protections from police abuses and more democratic control over their government.