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Thousands Protest Iraq War in London - 2003-04-12

Thousands of demonstrators marched in London Saturday to condemn the war in Iraq. But the turnout was a dramatic decline from the estimated one million protesters who marched in the British capital just eight weeks ago.

Those who did turn out to march Saturday say they continue to view the war as illegal, immoral and unjustified.

Patrick Nield, from Bromley, south of London, says he has marched in all three previous anti-war rallies held in the British capital since last September. "From the beginning, I have disagreed with the fact that we have gone to war without sanction of the United Nations," he said. "It's basically a war of aggression for whatever reason. And it's not supported by the United Nations."

Another marcher was Riad El-Taher, an Iraqi exile who has lived in London for several years. He accuses the United States of being more interested in Iraq's oil than its people. "The first thing they managed to secure was the ministry of oil, the embassies of Britain and the U.S.," he said. "The ministry of oil is the only ministry that has been secured by the invading force. And they allow this mob to pillage the whole of Iraq infrastructure and property."

There was one lone supporter of the war displaying a Union Jack [British] flag on Parliament Square. He was Leslie Knights, a seaman in the British Royal Navy who came to London from Portsmouth on the southern coast. "I'm here to support our troops, and I'm here to support the American troops, the Australian troops, because I think they are doing a fantastic job and I think the Iraqi people really appreciate it," he said.

Mr. Knights said he was not very worried about a confrontation with the anti-war demonstrators. As he put it: "This is a free country, and if they can have their say, I can have mine."