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Hundreds of Thousands Protest War With Iraq - 2003-03-21


Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are protesting the U.S.-led war on Iraq. Thousands of anti-war activists in the United States also intend to keep demonstrating through the weekend.

The largest anti-war demonstrations Friday took place in Greece and Italy.

There were demonstrations in Turkey, as well, where polls indicate more than 90 percent of the Turkish public opposes a war against Iraq.

Violence marred anti-war demonstrations in Yemen, where at least two people were killed in clashes between protesters and police. Authorities in Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan used water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators.

Thousands of protesters came out in Indonesia and Bangladesh, two of the world's most populous Muslim nations. There were also anti-war demonstrations in Japan and Australia, two countries whose governments are supporting the war effort.

In Nigeria, authorities are reported to have banned street protests.

In the United States, activists have been holding a series of small-scale rallies in front of the White House.

In Washington, demonstrator Anna White said peaceful protest is an integral part of American history. "Less than 100 years ago, women weren't even allowed to vote," she said. "And women didn't gain the right to vote from voting. They gained it by going to jail, taking to the streets and demanding that right. And that is the history of the United States. It's protest, it's dissent that really makes a democracy alive and viable." Meanwhile, opinion polls indicate approximately 70 percent of Americans continue to support the war effort. Karen Klein, from Arlington, Virginia, reflects this point of view. "It's an unfortunate war, but it's a necessary one," she said. "And I just wish that Bush had started just a tad earlier so that the weather had been more conducive for a more successful mission."

Despite the numbers, though, anti-war activists - like Al Fishman, of Peace Action of Michigan - remain hopeful the war will galvanize the opposition. "I think there will be some people who say well, now that we're at war, there's nothing we can do, or now that we're at war, we need to support the president, and so forth, and so on, but I think that, on balance, more people will be energized and angered to come out than will be hesitant," said Al Fishman.

This prediction will be put to the test this weekend, as U.S. anti-war activists prepare for what they say will be large scale demonstrations in cities around the country.

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