Thousands Rally Around World Against Iraq War
By Mark Wilkinson
WASHINGTON (Reuters - 26 Oct) - Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters marched peacefully on the White House on Saturday to express opposition to a possible U.S. attack on Iraq, some chanting slogans accusing President Bush (news - web sites) of planning genocide.
AP Photo Photo
Slideshow Slideshow: Thousands Protest Against War in Iraq
Thousands more people took part in anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam and other cities.
"This is going to be an ugly, unnecessary fight. Most of the world is saying 'no' to it," civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson (news - web sites) told the crowd at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. "Pre-emptive, one-bullet diplomacy, we cannot resort to that."
In Washington, actress Susan Sarandon, who supports numerous liberal causes, accused Bush of having "hijacked our losses and our fears." Sarandon said terrorism could not be fought with violence and that most Americans did not want a conflict.
"Let us resist this war," Sarandon told the cheering crowd. "Let us hate war in all its forms, whether the weapon used is a missile or an airplane."
Demonstrators of all ages, many religions and many nationalities gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before marching behind Jackson to the White House. Bush, however, was in Mexico for a summit of Pacific Rim leaders.
The protesters brandished signs reading: "No Proof, No War," "Bush Sucks" and "Pre-emptive Impeachment." Some protesters carried Iraqi flags. "No war, no way," shouted a protester wearing a mask of Bush with horns and a pitchfork.
"George Bush, you can't hide. We charge you with genocide!" chanted the demonstrators, who were escorted by mounted U.S. Park Police and watched by 600 police officers along the route in the heart of the nation's capital.
Bush has made "regime change" in Iraq -- ousting President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) -- a policy of his administration. Bush has said that if the United Nations (news - web sites) fails to compel Iraq to give up any weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological or nuclear arms -- it possesses, the United States would do so by force if necessary. Congress has given Bush the authorization he sought to carry out a possible attack.
Police did not give an official estimate of the size of the crowd in Washington. Tony Murphy, an organizer of the event, told Reuters 150,000 people participated. Other observers put the figure between 40,000 and 50,000.
42,000 PROTEST IN SAN FRANCISCO
In San Francisco, known for its liberal politics and history of activism, a crowd that police estimated at about 42,000 marched near the city's historic Ferry Building to its Civic Center.
A group of about 20 children led the parade as protesters carried signs bearing pictures of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld beneath the words "weapons of mass destruction." Other signs read: "No blood for oil" and "Regime change begins at home. Vote on Nov. 5," referring to the U.S. congressional elections.
In Germany, demonstrations were staged in about 70 towns and cities. The largest was in Berlin, where almost 10,000 people marched. In Amsterdam, some 4,000 people rallied in heavy rain to protest against U.S. policy.
In Washington, protesters called on Bush to spend the tens of billions of dollars that a war against Iraq could cost on social programs in the United States. They also argued that sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) should be lifted, blaming them for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
About 500 Iraqi exiles came to Washington to show support for efforts to remove Saddam from power.
Tamir Musa, an Iraqi who has lived in Michigan for 10 years, said, "The war is good if it goes to kill Saddam Hussein. He has a lot of bombs. He's terrorist number one."
"If violence fixed the problem, then Israel should be at peace," countered Rick Blumhorst of Kansas, a U.S. Gulf War veteran wearing his Army dress uniform. "Acting unilaterally, we're going to inflame the Muslim community."