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Anti-War Demonstrations Continue Around the World

Anti-War Demonstrations Continue Around the World

Posted - Mar. 21, 2003 at 9:16 a.m.



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(AP) Police clashed with 30,000 anti-war demonstrators Friday outside the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, setting off an exchange of gunfire that killed three people and injured dozens. Similar outrage over the U.S.-led assault on Iraq spilled into streets in cities around the world.

The protest in San'a, Yemen, was the most violent there since price-hike riots six years ago. Hundreds of police ringing the embassy compound tried to stop the crowd with tear gas and water cannons before firing automatic rifles into the air.

Protesters kept up their push, picking up stones and tear gas canisters and hurling them at police lines. Crowds shouted, "No American and no British Embassy on Yemeni land!," and, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

Riot police fired rubber bullets at a smaller crowd in Bahrain, while water cannons and tear gas were used in Egypt and Jordan. In Cairo, 10,000 people chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they gathered under tight security after Friday's weekly prayers.

"Islam is being raped. I feel terrible," said Um-Mohammed, an Egyptian woman demonstrating outside the venerable Al-Azhar mosque.

In his sermon, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar and the Muslim world's top Sunni cleric, called for jihad, or holy war, to support the Iraqi people but avoided any reference to the United States or the Iraqi regime.

"Jihad in Islam is meant to defend the religion, money, soul and freedom and to support those who were subject to injustice," he said. "Islam supports defending the righteous path, and we have to support and defend the people of Iraq."

About 500 Palestinians marched through the al-Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus, Syria, with posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat. They condemned Arab leaders who have aided the U.S. war effort and chanted, "Oh, Saddam! Destroy Kuwait! Destroy Kuwait's prince!"

Iranian leaders slammed the war as "Satanic" and a "threat to humanity" in statements marking the first day of the Persian new year Friday.

Anger over the war was not confined to the Muslim world.

More than 150,000 people protested in Athens, Greece, and police fired tear gas at small groups of protesters hurling rocks and gasoline bombs at officers guarding the glass-and-marble U.S. Embassy.

A four-hour nationwide strike called in opposition to the war brought Greece to a standstill and helped swell the ranks of demonstrators. Schools and universities closed to allow students to protest. The strike shut down airports, causing dozens of domestic and international flights to be delayed or canceled.

Consumer unions called for a boycott of all American products, from clothes to movies.

Hundreds of Greek Cypriot students tossed eggs and stones at the U.S. Embassy building in Nicosia, chanting, "Drop Bush, not bombs!"

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, India, Thailand, China and other countries across Asia.

In Tokyo, at least 11,000 people took advantage of warm spring weather and a national holiday to march for peace. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi backs U.S. efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein and has promised to provide aid for refugees and help rebuild Iraq after fighting ends.

Students and families carrying placards and giant paper cranes -- a symbol of peace -- were joined by flag-waving representatives of Japan's main opposition parties and labor unions. One demonstrator brandished a poster captioned "Oil War" and showing Bush's face superimposed on the body of Darth Vader.

"When I thought of the children in Iraq, I felt like I had to come," said housewife Fumiko Nakajima, 38, who was marching with her husband and two children. "If our government can't stand up to the United States, then we citizens have to."

A poll released Friday by Kyodo news service found that just 27.1 percent of Japanese surveyed approve of the U.S. decision to disarm Iraq by force -- but that number has more than doubled since last weekend. Kyodo provided no margin of error for its telephone poll of 1,093 Japanese.

In central London on Friday, protesters on bicycles blocked Parliament Square, and Greenpeace used a hot air balloon to drop peace leaflets over a British air force base shortly before U.S. B-52 bombers took off.

In Melbourne, Australia, about 5,000 protesters marched to the sound of mock air raid sirens. The demonstration came as officials confirmed for the first time that units of the nation's military were engaged in Iraq.

In Germany, police broke up a sit-down protest outside the U.S. military's European Command in Stuttgart. In Berlin, schoolchildren placed candles on a street leading to the U.S. Embassy, which was protected by heavy concrete barriers and fences.

Anti-war activists set up a 10-foot steel peace symbol and an 800-pound bell near the embassy. They said they would ring the bell every half-hour until the war is over.

Moses Lehploe, a university student in Monrovia, the capital of war-riven Liberia, said the United States had no choice but war.

"A stubborn sore needs a drastic cure," he said. "George Bush was made to deal with ruthless people like Saddam."

But Lilian Achor, a 25-year-old banker in Lagos, Nigeria, disagreed.

"America, which has the most deadly weapons the world has ever seen, is accusing another country of having weapons of mass destruction and wants to disarm it," she said. "It's sheer hypocrisy."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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