Margaret Thatcher's death evokes polarized reaction

As the international community learned of former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher's death, a mixed reaction began to emerge, recalling the tenacious and strong-willed woman who led the country from 1979 to 1990.

RELATED: Margaret Thatcher, former U.K. PM, dead at 87

RELATED:Margaret Thatcher's death marked respectfully — and otherwise — on Twitter

Not everyone was mourning the death of the Iron Lady, who accumulated many opponents during her political reign, culminating in a failed assassination attempt on her life in 1984.

Thatcher was as polarizing in death as in life, said CBC's John Northcott, who was rounding up online reaction to Thatcher's death.

Online, some people started organizing parties to celebrate her death, he said. One online site invoked one of Thatcher's quotes, saying, "This lady's not returning" and asked, "How are you celebrating?"

"Thatcher described Nelson Mandela as a 'terrorist.' I was there. I saw her lips move. May she burn in the hellfires," tweeted British MP George Galloway. Two hours earlier, he sent out the controversial tweet apparently referring to an Elvis Costello song: "Tramp the dirt down."

"Margaret [Thatcher] marked British and European political life. Despite political differences, initially she was a committed European," tweeted Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament.

"She did make war on a lot of people in Britain, and I don't think it helped our society," Tony Benn, a 1970s labour minister and Thatcher's political opponent, said in a Reuters report.

"Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British prime minister," wrote Gerry Adams, president of the Irish party Sinn Féin, in a statement on the party's website. "Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies. Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent …. Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations …. Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and '81. Her Irish policy failed miserably."

"My gut reaction now is what it was at the time when she said my father [former African National Congress president, Oliver Tambo] was the leader of a terrorist [organization]. I don't think she ever got it that every day she opposed sanctions, more people were dying, and that the best thing for the assets she wanted to protect was democracy," said Dali Tambo in a report by the Guardian. "Many lives were lost. It's a shame that we could never call her one of the champions of the liberation struggle. Normally we say that when one of us goes, the ANC ancestors will meet them at the pearly gates and give them a standing ovation. I think it's quite likely that when Margaret Thatcher reaches the pearly gates, the ANC will boycott the occasion."

"She created today's housing crisis. She created the banking crisis. And she created the benefit crisis. It was her government that started putting people on incapacity benefit rather than register them as unemployed because the Britain she inherited was broadly full employment. She decided when she wrote off our manufacturing industry that she could live with two or three million unemployed, and the benefits bill, the legacy of that, we are struggling with today. In actual fact, every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact that she was fundamentally wrong," the Guardian reported former mayor of London Ken Livingstone saying.

Argentina's government offered no official reaction, but scores of Argentinians posted criticisms of her on Twitter, blaming her for the deaths of 649 Argentine troops during the South Atlantic conflict. Some 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders also died.

After the monarchy announced Monday that Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours at St. Paul's cathedral in the coming days, many posted on Twitter complaining about the decision, using the hashtag #nostatefuneral. An online petition calling for Thatcher's state funeral to be privatized, in keeping with her policies, amassed more than 33,000 signatures before it was closed.

Many online called for a respectful tone — regardless of how people felt about her politics.

"The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure," said Edward Miliband, the leader of the Labour party and the opposition. "But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and personal strength."

"Let us not kid ourselves, she was a very divisive figure," said Bernard Ingham, Thatcher's press secretary for her entire term. "She was a real toughie. She was a patriot with a great love for this country, and she raised the standing of Britain abroad."

"The ANC was on the receiving end of her policy in terms of refusing to recognize the ANC as the representatives of South Africans and her failure to isolate apartheid after it had been described as a crime against humanity. However, we acknowledge that she was one of the strong leaders in Britain and Europe to an extent that some of her policies dominate discourse in the public service structures of the world," wrote ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu in a statement.

"Margaret Thatcher was a truly remarkable, [galvanizing] figure — did not share her politics but admired her determination and tenacity," tweeted Bob Rae, Liberal MP for Toronto-Centre.

Queen Elizabeth issued a statement saying she was sad to hear the news and she plans to send a private message to Thatcher's family. Many other international leaders joined her in sending their condolences.

"It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister, and a great Briton," tweeted David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom. "Lady Thatcher didn't just lead our country, she saved our country."

"The world has lost a giant among leaders," wrote Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement. "Lady Thatcher's leadership in time of conflict and during the generous peace she helped bring forth, was an example to the world. As a result, millions now live with the dignity and freedom that she envisioned for them, during the darkest moments of the post-war years …. Laureen and I join all Canadians in saluting the proud life and legacy of Lady Thatcher."

"The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend," wrote U.S. President Barack Obama in a statement. "We carry on the work to which she dedicated her life — free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny."

"She was a lady with a great personality …. She was very important in the history of Great Britain," former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien told CBC News by phone. Chrétien said he had the opportunity to work with Thatcher while he was Canada's minister of justice, and met her several times while he was prime minister. Although she had very strong political views, he said, she could be a very pleasant person and quite charming in private."

"Lady Thatcher, fearless champion of liberty, stood up for captive nations, helped free world win the Cold War. Deserves statue in Poland," tweeted Radosław Sikorski, Poland's foreign affairs minister.

Falkland Islands lawmaker Mike Summers said Thatcher was "one of very few political leaders who could have mounted the expedition she mounted in 1982 to restore our freedom, and from a Falkland Islands perspective she will be forever remembered for that."

"She was a pioneering leader for her contribution to peace and security, particularly at the height of the Cold War. She was also a great model as the first woman prime minister of the United Kingdom, who not only demonstrated her leadership but has given such great hope for many women for equality, gender equality in Parliament," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement. "We will owe a great deal to her leadership. I hope that her leadership will inspire many people around the world for peace and security and human rights."

"RIP Margaret Thatcher, one of the great leaders of the 20th century," tweeted U.S. Senator John McCain.

"Dad said Thatcher would change name of country, depending on who she wanted to sit next to at summits: UK next to US, England next to Canada," tweeted Ben Mulroney, son of former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

[ [ [['xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx', 11]], '27013743', '0' ], [ [['keyword', 9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999]], 'videoID', '1', 'overwrite-pre-description', 'overwrite-link-string', 'overwrite-link-url' ] ]