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 Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 02:58 GMT
Global protests against Iraq war
San Francisco march
Marchers in San Francisco lend their voice to protests
A day of worldwide protests against a looming US-led war on Iraq has culminated in giant peace rallies in Washington, San Francisco and other US cities.

More than 50,000 Americans converged on the National Mall in the centre of Washington, in one of the biggest protests since the build-up for war began.

Washington protesters
Banging the drum of peace in Washington

The most popular chant was "No War For Oil". The crowds carried placards saying "Regime Change Starts at Home" and "Would Jesus Bomb Them?"

In San Francisco, a group of nude women called for President George W Bush to rein in his "naked aggression" against Iraq.

Anti-war demonstrations spanned the world on Saturday, including rallies in Japan, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Russia, France, Britain, Argentina and Mexico.

Pressure on Baghdad

But the momentum towards war continues to grow.

19 Jan - Blix meets top Iraqi officials in Baghdad
27 Jan - First full report on inspections presented to UN
29 Jan - UN discusses report
31 Jan - Bush meets Blair
15 Feb - Anti-war protests across Europe
27 Mar - Blix submits new report to UN

The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, complained on Saturday that Iraq was still not giving his team "genuine co-operation" as they searched for weapons of mass destruction.

And it has emerged that UN arms experts have found 3,000 undisclosed documents apparently relating to nuclear weapons technology in an Iraqi scientist's home.

US opinion polls show that most Americans still back President George Bush, our Washington correspondent says. But many of them say Mr Bush has not yet made a convincing case for war against Iraq.

The US and its main ally Britain are sending tens of thousands of troops to the Gulf, and putting others on standby.

'Pre-emptive movement'

The activists at the Washington rally included the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton.

Anti-war demonstrators in Tokyo
Protesters in Tokyo said the US must not jump into war

As many as 50,000 people are expected to attend a peace rally in San Francisco, including actor Martin Sheen.

US protest organisers want to generate the kind of opposition that was expressed against the Vietnam War 30 years ago.

One of them, Washington lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, said: "Bush has said he intends to launch a pre-emptive war, and now he's facing the most formidable obstacle, which is a pre-emptive anti-war movement".

In San Francisco, environmental and trade union activists, Hollywood stars, anarchists and military veterans marched to show opposition to military action against Iraq.

"I'm hoping that the bus loads of people coming as far away as Oregon and Nevada give an indication that this isn't just the crazy loons in San Francisco - but we reflect the opinions of the entire United States," said Tim Kingston of the anti-war group Global Exchange.

Elsewhere, much anger was aimed at the US itself.

  • In Moscow, Cold War-era music accompanied a demonstration outside the US embassy by about 1,000 communist supporters
  • Thousands of people joined an anti-war march in Paris
  • In Germany, peace protesters marched through the cities of Rostock and Tuebingen
  • Protesters in Cairo defied a ban on political rallies to condemn any war against Iraq
  • In Damascus, tens of thousands of people condemned US war preparations and Washington's support for Israel
  • Hundreds of schoolchildren joined protesters in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to try to form a human chain to Rawalpindi, 10 kilometres (six miles) away
  • More than 4,000 people attended a peace concert in Tokyo - the largest of about 10 demonstrations in Japan
  The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"About 30,000 marched on Washington"
  Linguistic philosopher Noam Chomsky
"The disparity of forces is so extraordinary it's likely to be a slaughter"

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See also:

19 Jan 03 | Middle East
18 Jan 03 | Americas
18 Jan 03 | Americas
17 Jan 03 | Middle East
17 Jan 03 | Middle East
18 Jan 03 | South Asia
18 Jan 03 | Middle East
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