Who Are They and What Do They Want? ; the Prime Minister Would like to Write Them off as Extremists - but Andrew Johnson Talks to Those Preparing to Protest Next Week and Finds the Same Diversity That Made the Anti-War Movement Impossible to Ignore
Johnson, Andrew, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
The school pupil
Michael Higgs, 15, from Clapham, south London, is among hundreds of pupils who intend to walk out of school on Thursday afternoon to attend the demonstration.
"I'm completely opposed to George Bush's state visit," he says. "It is completely wrong for Tony Blair to invite him. It's been shown that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, or they have done a very good job of hiding them.
"I don't think the march will stop him coming but he's got to know that most people in Britain don't want him here. There's no point being opposed to him coming if we're not going to do anything about it.
"I'll leave school at lunchtime and I'll be gone for two hours, so I don't think I'll be in trouble. There was no trouble last time. Thirty or 40 of us left school when war broke out. The headmaster tried to talk us out of it.
"I've been leafleting in schools. I don't think George Bush should have been invited. It's not just because of the war, I don't like him, or rather, disagree with him, for a number of reasons - his refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty, for example.
"I want him to go home thinking he got us into a war the majority of the British people didn't want. I want him to know he is wrong."
Ernest James, 52, is a barrister who joined the national demonstration against war in Iraq earlier this year. He believes President Bush will use his visit to launch his re-election campaign.
"The Americans love the Royal Family," he says, referring to the President's scheduled stay at Buckingham Palace.
"The problem is that Blair can't say no to President Bush - he is a great respecter of authority because of his upbringing and background. He has a problem saying no to people he respects.
"The last use of a state visit for a US President was 85 years ago. America has done nothing for this country, we've just done things for them. Pakistan has received more, we're still closing our steel mills.
"He is never going to get a good reception from the people of this country, but maybe he's encouraged by they way we treated protesters when the Chinese premier visited."
Shaz Manir, 29, a Muslim who lives in Birmingham, has been on previous marches. She wants to send a message to President Bush, and the world, that not everybody in Britain supports the war.
"I think its disgusting that the world's number one terrorist has been invited on a state visit. I'd like him to know that the British people are not with him on this. When people are occupied they are going to resist.
"I don't know how he's not going to see the demonstration. Because of the demo his plans have already been changed - he is not going down Pall Mall nor will he speak in Parliament, so he has already got the message.
"I'm not against the war because I am a Muslim. On …
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Publication information: Article title: Who Are They and What Do They Want? ; the Prime Minister Would like to Write Them off as Extremists - but Andrew Johnson Talks to Those Preparing to Protest Next Week and Finds the Same Diversity That Made the Anti-War Movement Impossible to Ignore. Contributors: Johnson, Andrew - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: November 16, 2003. Page number: 9. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.