Protests in Greece and Italy
ATHENS, Greece (AP - 20 March) -- Tens of thousands of protesters marched on
American embassies in world capitals Thursday to protest U.S.-led attacks
on Iraq. Demonstrators and police clashed in Egypt and the Philippines.
In Cairo, the Egyptian capital, riot police used water cannons to keep
about 1,000 stone-throwing demonstrators, mainly students from the
American University in Cairo, from reaching the U.S. Embassy.
The protesters began throwing metal barricades when riot squads tried to
block them from joining about 500 Muslim Brotherhood and communist
anti-war demonstrators about 50 yards from the downtown embassy. Police
took swings at demonstrators' heads with batons, but some also were heard
to shout: "Don't hit them! Don't hit them!"
Soon, demonstrators broke through and more than 2,000 people were
surrounded by riot police. Demonstrators shouted "Down with Arab
leaders!" and "Leave, leave Mubarak!" in reference to Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak -- an indication of the anger many Arabs feel toward their
own governments for failing, in their view, to act strongly enough to
Essam el-Eryan, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member among the
protesters, said, "American interests shouldn't feel safe in the Arab
region. Iraq should be supported to transform the swift war that the U.S.
wants to gang and city fights, to make Iraq a graveyard to the Americans.
"This way, American people will revolt against this war."
More than 100,000 people, many of them high-school and university
students, marched to the U.S. Embassy in Athens as mass demonstrations
were held throughout the country to protest the war against Iraq.
Chanting "No to the war" and "Americans, killers of people," the Athens
protesters gathered for the first of two mass demonstrations organized in
the early-morning hours by labor activists, students and teachers'
unions. More demonstrations are planned for Friday and the weekend.
In Rome, police blocked anti-war demonstrators marching up Via Veneto
toward the U.S. Embassy, while tens of thousands of students, workers and
other Italians blocked highways and train tracks elsewhere.
On Rome's Via Veneto, police parked patrol cars across the boulevard to
keep several hundred students about 200 yards from the embassy.
In the northern industrial city of Turin, as many as 20,000 demonstrators
marched through main streets to the train station, where some protesters
occupied tracks, police spokeswoman Cecilia Sartone said. Trains
continued traveling on other tracks, she said.
Riot police in Manila, Philippines, used shields and truncheons to
disperse about 300 anti-war activists trying to approach the U.S.
Embassy, injuring at least 12 demonstrators, protest leaders said.
Although small in number, anti-war protests at the tightly guarded
seaside embassy have become more aggressive and boisterous, and police
have responded this week with dispersals and arrests.
Throughout the day, a phalanx of police kept protesters on a road several
yards away from the embassy, where they burned a U.S. flag and portraits
of President Bush and Philippine leader Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one of
the staunchest Asian allies of the U.S.-led global war on terrorism.
In other Greek demonstrations, more than 11,000 people marched to the
U.S. Consulate in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, while about
10,000 rallied outside the British consulate in the western port of
Thousands of people earlier held candlelight vigils in Athens and
"We are protesting the attack against Iraq because we cannot accept the
cowboy stance of the supposed planet lord. The end result will be the
disappearance of the planet lord," Athens teacher Christos Gotzias said
Greeks overwhelmingly oppose the war and many newspapers and television
stations have been highly critical of the U.S.-led action, with many
urging Greeks to demonstrate.
"Desert nightmare has begun," wrote the Athens daily Ethnos, while the
headline in the daily Ta Nea read "Millions are defenseless at the mercy
of super weapons."
The Greek government, which holds the European Union presidency, also
opposes the war but has cited international and bilateral agreements
allowing the United States to use its airspace and a U.S. Navy base in
Souda Bay, Crete. The base hosts refueling and spy planes.
"Greece is against the war and Greece is not participating in the war,"
government spokesman Tilemahos Hitiris said. "The Greek government
expresses its disappointment because a war that could have been averted
has been underway since the early morning hours."