Saturday, March 18, 2006

Anti-War Protesters Rally Around World

Yahoo! News
Anti-War Protesters Rally Around World
By PAUL BURKHARDT, Associated Press Writer

Thousands of anti-war protesters took to the streets around the world Saturday, marking the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with demands that coalition troops leave immediately.

Wael Musfar of the Arab Muslim American Federation addressed a crowd in Times Square from a flatbed truck parked near a recruiting station, which was guarded by police.

"We say enough hypocrisy, enough lies, our soldiers must come home now," Musfar said. Participants chanted, "Stop the U.S. war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines."

In Washington, a protester wearing a President Bush mask and bearing fake blood on his hands waved to passing automobiles outside Vice President Dick Cheney's residence, where about 200 people demonstrated against the war.

Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ addressed the crowd, saying the rallies nationwide are a "tapestry of resistance" and that public opinion of the war has shifted.

"Most people believe we aren't crazy anymore," he said.

In Concord, N.H, nearly 300 peace activists marched about a mile from a National Guard Armory to the Statehouse.

"I feel a huge sense of betrayal that I went and risked my life for a lie," said Joseph Turcott, 26, a former Marine who served in the invasion.

Other participants showed up at the rally to support U.S. troops.

[Editor's comment: The previous statement by the writer of this article shows either his misunderstanding or his predjudice toward the war. EVERY person who protests against the war SUPPORTS THE TROOPS.]

"I have friends in Iraq and I just want them to know that I may not be able to support them there, but I can here," said Jose Avila, 36.

At Dudley Square in Boston, a few hundred college-age protesters and baby boomers waved placards that read "Impeach Bush" and "Stop the War."

"It seems like we are fighting a King George in the same way General Washington fought a King George, who was equally imperialistic," said Askia Toure, a poet and activist.

Protester Susan McLucas wore a homemade sign that read: "Bush Lied! 100,000 died!"

"It's a war based on lies," said McLucas, 57. "We are gaining strength. The war is becoming more and more unpopular."

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, demonstrators, including mothers whose children serve in Iraq, carried signs reading "The Iraqi people have a right to live" and "Students for demilitarization." Forty-nine Puerto Ricans soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Protests were also held in Australia, Asia and Europe, but many events were far smaller than organizers had hoped.

In London, police said 15,000 people joined a march from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square. The anniversary last year attracted 45,000 protesters in the city.

Protesters in several cities carried posters showing pictures of President Bush, calling him the "world's No. 1 terrorist." In London, other posters pictured British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying "Blair must go!"

"We are against this war, both for religious reasons and on a humanitarian basis, too," said Imran Saghir, 25, a Muslim student who attended the London rally.

Britain, the United States' strongest supporter in the Iraq war, has about 8,000 troops in Iraq but plans to pull out 800 of them by May. The British military has reported 103 deaths there.

In Stockholm, Sweden, about 1,000 demonstrators gathered for a rally and march to the U.S. Embassy. One protester was dressed as the hooded figure shown in an iconic photograph from the Abu Ghraib prison. "We do not need Abu Ghraib democracy, or Guantanamo Bay freedom," said Eftikar Hashem Alhusainy, addressing the rally.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, more than 2,000 demonstrators marched from the U.S. Embassy to the British Embassy, demanding that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen withdraw the 530 Danish troops from southern Iraq.

In Turkey, where opposition to the war is nearly universal and cuts across all political stripes, about 3,000 protesters gathered in Istanbul, police said.

"Murderer USA," read a sign unfurled by a communist in Taksim Square in Istanbul. "USA, go home!" said red-and-black signs carried in Kadikoy on the city's Asian coast.

In Italy, Romano Prodi, the center-left leader who is challenging conservative Premier Silvio Berlusconi in next month's election, said he and his supporters wouldn't join a march in Rome because of a risk of violence.

A group of about 20 people played music and chanted protests outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. The majority of the Mexican public has always opposed the occupation.

On Sunday, up to 3,000 protesters were expected in Seoul, South Korea, which has the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq after the U.S. and Britain. Another rally was planned outside the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur.

Britain's defense chief earlier urged demonstrators in London to support the Iraqi people and condemn terrorism.

"When people go on the streets of London today, I do wish just occasionally they would go out in support of the United Nations, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi democrats and condemn terrorists," Defense Secretary John Rid told British Broadcasting Corp. radio during a visit to Iraq.

Members of the Stop the War Coalition, the organizers of the London march, had little sympathy for Reed's remarks.

"Every day you hear of new deaths. Tony Blair has actually made Iraq a worse place for the Iraqi people," said Rose Gentle, whose soldier son Gordon, 19, was killed by a roadside bomb last year in Basra, southern Iraq.

Associated Press Writer Sue Leeman contributed to this report from London.