[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 20:37 GMT
US 'virtual march' over Iraq
Anti-war activist Martin Sheen
Stars joined the protest
Thousands of anti-war activists have been bombarding the White House and senators with phone calls and e-mails in a virtual protest over the Iraq crisis.

Backed by a number of celebrities, volunteers jammed switchboards in Washington DC in an effort to force US politicians to think again over the prospect of war in the Gulf.

Organisers online democracy group MoveOn say more than 250,000 people signed up to take part in the protest and that many more joined in during Wednesday.

We need to be courageous and voice our opinion
Tony Shalhoub
Celebrity backers - from the Artists United to Win Without War - include veteran activist Martin Sheen, Matt Damon and Susan Sarandon.

BBC News Online tried calling the White House "comments" line and the numbers of more than a dozen senators without success.

Those volunteers who did get through expressed their irritation that the US was not allowing UN inspectors more time to do their work in the Gulf state.

Eli Pariser, international campaign director, told BBC News Online the response to the protest had been "extraordinary" from people all over the US.

"If we were to have done a normal march, there a lot of people in the likes of Kansas or North Dakota who couldn't have made it."

As well as organising the virtual march, MoveOn has paid for a US television advert suggesting that the end result of war in Iraq could be nuclear war.

Actor James Cromwell
Activists want more inspections
One of the other stars joining the protest was James Cromwell, who played the US president in nuclear thriller The Sum of All Fears.

The Babe and LA Confidential star said: "This gives ordinary Americans an opportunity to express their protests that there are other policies that this administration could pursue to get Saddam Hussein."

Fellow character actor Tony Shalhoub, who has appeared in both Men in Black films and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There, has also lent support.

He said: "We are asking people to call, fax or e-mail the US Senate or the White House.

"We need to be courageous and voice our opinion and that is why we are here and that is... [what the] virtual march in Washington is all about."

One ordinary activist taking part, Justin Laughlin, a manager at a telephone company in Florida, said he had not been able to get through to either of his senators or to the White House despite repeated efforts.

Saying all of his friends wanted more time for inspections, he added: "There has got to be another alternative to war.

"This is the first time I've felt such strong betrayal by my government."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific