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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 20:47 GMT
Anti-war protests span the globe
Swiss man protesting in Bern
Thousands held a peaceful protest in Bern
Tens of thousands of people worldwide have taken to the streets to stage the latest series of demonstrations against the conflict in Iraq.

There have been rallies in Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Asia, while in the US marches are planned in Washington and other major cities.

Demonstrations are also being held in Paris, Brussels and London, where protesters gathered in the city's Hyde Park for an afternoon of speeches.

Some protests turned violent. In Brussels riot police tried to prevent protesters who hurled rocks and sticks at the US embassy from getting too close to the building, later using water cannon on a small number who split from the main protest.

Mass protest in New York

In New York City, around 100,000 people marched at lunchtime from Times Square to Greenwich Village's Washington Square Park, filling 20 city blocks.

A few clashes took place as police chased and surrounded a small group who broke away from the main march.

"We support the troops, but we do not support the president," said New York Congressman Charles Rangel.

In Washington, several hundred protesters, chanting "No blood for oil," strode through the streets and rallied in front of the White House.

But pro-war rallies were also reported in some cities, like Atlanta, Chicago, and Lansing, Michigan.

Recent polls have suggested increasing support for the war among the US public.

Pope's plea

As 10,000 anti-war protesters marched through the Italian city of Naples towards a Nato base in Bagnoli, Pope John Paul II made his first public comment on the conflict.

An Indonesian protester outside the US embassy in Jakarta
In Jakarta, demonstrators gathered at the US embassy

"When war, like the one now in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is even more urgent for us to proclaim, with a firm and decisive voice, that only peace is the way of building a more just and caring society," he said.

In Wellington, New Zealand protesters shouting "no blood for oil" marched to the US embassy and hurled fake blood into the compound.

The Australian cities of Brisbane and Hobart were brought to a halt.

"We feel sympathy with the people of Iraq, and the families of Iraq. That's why we're here supporting the families," said one demonstrator.

'Evil aggression'

In Indonesia, a crowd converged on the US embassy in Jakarta, shouting anti-US slogans.

Anti-war protestors in Seoul, South Korea
People took to the streets in Seoul

"We condemn the evil aggression against Iraq. Bush, Blair and Howard should be brought to the international court of justice as war criminals," Hizb ut Tahrir, the Muslim group which organised the rally, said in a statement.

There were protests, too, in Malaysia, South Korea and India.

In the South Korean capital, Seoul, Buddhist monks struck giant drums at a rally of 2,000 people to console the spirits of victims of the war.

And India saw about 15,000 people march in Calcutta, where speakers attacked the US for its "anti-Islamic" war, Reuters news agency reported.

In Bangladesh, a general strike closed down many businesses and mosques, while in the southern mainly Muslim provinces of Thailand people organised prayers for peace.

In Japan, protesters rallied near a US naval base as well as outside a US air base on the southern island of Okinawa.

Europe protests

Europe saw some of the largest demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands of British citizens taking part in demonstrations across the country.

In London, marchers wound their way through central London and past Downing Street, the official residence of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, before arriving at Hyde Park, where speakers denounced what they called US unilateralism.

However the turnout, put at several hundred thousand, was less than anticipated.

Protests in the Swiss capital, Bern, were tense after police used water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas against a group of hooded demonstrators, said to be from a radical faction.

In Athens, Greece, demonstrators outside the US embassy threw two Molotov cocktails onto the embassy lawn.

An estimated 20,000 people attended a rally in front of the Swiss parliament, the French news agency AFP reported.

And in Vienna, Austria, demonstrators threw themselves to the ground to the sound of specially pre-recorded gunshots, and staged a "die-in" in protest at the conflict.

The BBC's Richard Forrest
"In Hollywood protestors marched along Sunset Boulevard"

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