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Half A Million Protest War with Iraq but Not In America

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Half A Million Protest War with Iraq but Not In America PostMon Nov 18, 2002 4:06 am  Reply with quote  

World - Reuters

Half-A-Million March in Anti-War Rally in Italy
Sat Nov 9, 1:56 PM ET Add World - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Luke Baker

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - More than half a million anti-war protesters from across Europe marched through this Italian Renaissance city on Saturday in a loud and colorful demonstration denouncing any possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

Reuters Photo

AP Photo
Slideshow: Thousands Protest Against War in Iraq

Brimming with anti-American feelings and riled by a tough new U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq, young and old activists from as far afield as Russia and Portugal joined forces for the carnival-like rally, singing Communist anthems and 1970s peace songs.

"Take your war and go to hell," read one banner, in a forest of multi-colored and multi-lingual placards.

"Drop Bush, not Bombs" read another. Some placards depicted President Bush (news - web sites) as Hitler and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as Mussolini.

Organizers said the rally, planned months ago, gained added relevance by Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution which gave Iraq a last chance to disarm or face almost certain war.

The protest, involving children as well as grandmothers, marked the climax of the first European Social Forum, a four-day meeting of anti-globalisation campaigners from all over Europe. Delegates discussed topics from debt-reduction to support for the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Florence has been virtually shut down for the November 6-10 period, with the State Department advising its citizens to steer clear of Italy's art capital over concerns that violent, anarchist groups might infiltrate the demonstration.

Authorities estimated that some 450,000 protesters flooded Florence's streets for the march on a chilly autumn afternoon.

But by dusk, the crowed had swelled to over half a million, many of them arriving on specially chartered trains and buses. Organizers estimated the gathering at around one million, making it one of Italy's biggest ever anti-war rallies.

Despite the large crowds, the march was largely peaceful and no incidents were reported.

"The atmosphere here is wonderful. Absolutely perfect. It shows that a new young left is emerging," said Stavos Valsamis, a 27-year-old Greek activist from Athens.

Children climbed on their parents' shoulders to get a view of the sea of crowds marching along the seven-km (4.5-miles) route. Many clapped as marchers passed by.

"This is amazing, it's so impressive," said 12-year-old Bianca Ronglia as she watched with her family from the side of the road. "I'm happy and proud that my city is holding this."


The march was bigger than a protest at a G8 summit in Genoa last year, when 300,000 demonstrators took to the streets and an orgy of violence left one protester dead and hundreds injured.

Some 7,000 police officers were on call but security forces kept a low profile along the rally's route. No incidents were reported.

The rest of Florence was a ghost town with most shops in the art-rich historical center pulling down the shutters for fear of vandals. However, the city's famed museums remained open and offered free entry to the few tourists around.

Many Florence residents deserted the city for the four days of the forum, prompting criticism from those who stayed behind.

"I'm really disappointed by my fellow Florentines -- it really shows very little faith. This whole event has been very calm, in fact the city has been much calmer and friendlier than usual," said housewife Maria Briccoli, 37.

As well as university-age students, older political activists and thousands of trades unionists, Saturday's throng also included Italian World War II partisans and a U.S. Vietnam war veteran who marched in the first row of the crowd.

While Friday's U.N. resolution gives the Security Council a central role in assessing the new arms' inspection program for Iraq, it does not require the United States to seek U.N. authorization for war in case of violations.

"I think it's a scandalous resolution," said Sean Murray, 29, a member of Workers' Revolution. "It proves once more that the U.N. is a puppet of America, Britain and France."

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PostMon Nov 18, 2002 7:49 am  Reply with quote  

[Edited 2 times, lastly by Mech on 11-18-2002]
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PostMon Nov 18, 2002 3:32 pm  Reply with quote  

Iraq Warns US War Will
Lead To Strike On Isreal
By Paul Waugh
Deputy Political Editor
The Independent - UK

Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, gave his clearest warning yet yesterday that Baghdad would launch strikes against Israel if it was attacked by Britain and America.

Mr Aziz's threat came as he repeated his government's denial that it was developing weapons of mass destruction and said full access would be given to UN weapons inspectors.

His remarks followed a prediction by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that Saddam Hussein would be "making the mistake of his life" if he failed to comply with the latest UN resolution on disarmament. Interviewed on ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme, Mr Aziz said that any military action against Iraq would endanger not just Britain and America but also their allies such as Israel.

Asked what the Iraqi strategy might be if, as suspected, it is militarily weaker than it was in the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Aziz replied that his government was "capable of defending our nation". He added: "We are an old nation and we could survive. But I tell you, if the US and UK wage a war against Iraq, the consequences will be very bad to them and their friends in the region.

"If they don't care about their friends, then that gives you an idea about their real intentions. This is going to be devastating, not only to Iraq, but to them also. The aggressors will also suffer a great deal of losses."

Mr Aziz said he was not convinced the return of weapons inspectors would save Iraq from attack. "I have to be objective and honest in saying that we in Iraq do not feel that the possibility of the American aggression on Iraq has been totally removed," he said.

He said that since the UN weapons inspectors left in 1998, Iraq had not resumed any military activity in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. "We will provide immediate access [to the inspectors]," he said. "We have given instructions to all responsible people and many government areas to respond immediately to any request to enter their sites and inspect them." Iraq would also provide a full declaration of its dual-use chemical, biological and nuclear programmes, he said.

In an interview with Sky's Sunday with Adam Boulton programme, Mr Straw said President Saddam had "one final chance", but refused to be drawn on the likelihood of military action.

"The second paragraph of the resolution talks about a 'final opportunity'. So he mustn't believe, because he would be making the mistake of his life, that he can mess the international community about yet again," Mr Straw said. 280

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