THE IRAQ CONFLICT: DEMONSTRATIONS - Worldwide Peace Protests Marred by Death and Violence
Popham, Peter, The Independent (London, England)
PROTESTERS AGAINST the war in Iraq took to the streets in dozens of cities around the world yesterday.
Muslims poured out of Friday prayers in mosques across the Islamic world and shouted their anger at the US-led invasion. The most violent clash was in Sana, the capital of Yemen, where demonstrators exchanged gunfire with riot police. A policeman and an 11-year-old protester were killed, and many others were injured.
In Cairo, worshippers streamed out of the al-Azhar mosque after hearing a fiery sermon. At least 5,000 gathered in the street outside, throwing missiles at riot police, who responded with water canon. In Beirut, youths chanting "Death to America" hurled stones and tried to force their way through to the American embassy, but were beaten back by tear gas. In the Jordanian capital, Amman, hundreds of riot police patrolled the streets, enforcing a ban on demonstrations.
In the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, up to 15,000 people marched through the city, an ad hoc coalition of Muslims and leftists. At Dhaka's central mosque the head preacher, Obaidul Haq, told his congregation to boycott American products and called on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to close down the American bases on their territory. "All Muslims must unite to resist the evil forces," he said. Later the marchers chanted "Stop the attack on Iraq" and "Bush is a war criminal".
In Srinagar, summer capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir, a small but noisy, stone-throwing protest was broken up by soldiers with tear gas. In Pakistan some 10,000 supporters of the religious right took to the streets after prayers in cities across the country. In Peshawar, close to the border with Afghanistan, some marched carrying Kalashnikov rifles.
Clerics in mosques across the Islamic world seized the opportunity to lash America. "There is a larger plan by America to crush Islam," a preacher in Kabul declared. At several mosques in Sana, preachers gave fiery sermons. One accused Washington of trying to seize control "of all that is sacred to Islam".
In the United States, the first day of war prompted some of the most widespread protests in years, with almost 2,000 arrests across the country, including 1,300 in San Fransisco alone, where thousands of demonstrators swamped the city streets and paralysed traffic. …