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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 22:16 GMT
Blair given Christmas anti-war message
Iraqi children outside the prime minister Tony Blair's official residence, 10 Downing Street, London
The children handed the cards in at Downing Street
Seven Iraqi children have delivered giant Christmas cards to Prime Minister Tony Blair, urging him not to go to war with Iraq.

The Iraqis, aged between eight and 15, were joined by a brother and sister from Egypt and a Palestinian boy as they handed the cards in at 10 Downing Street, on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition.

The cards contained thousands of messages and signatures of British people opposed to the government's backing for President Bush's firm stance against Iraq.

In Baghdad Saddam Hussein has delivered a rallying Christmas message on Iraqi television, warning that "the forces of evil and darkness" want to create instability and chaos in many parts of the world.

'Human cost'

The UK has promised to join any coalition that takes military action against Baghdad's reputed pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

We would never allow 500,000 Jewish children to starve to death, we would never allow 500,000 British children to starve to death

Former chief United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter

But the Stop the War Coalition, which is planning a demonstration in London on 15 February, claimed both countries were ready to fight a war for control of Iraq's oilfields.

Spokesman Andrew Burgin said: "People are talking about war so blithely at the moment, as if there is no human cost."

He said 500,000 children had died since sanctions were imposed on Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War and more would be killed in the event of war.

The cards, feature a picture of an injured child and the phrases "Don't attack Iraq" and "Give peace a chance" next to a quote from former chief United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who resigned in protest in 1998.

How could you live with these children's blood on your hands?

Fatima Mahmoud

He is quoted as saying: "We would never allow 500,000 Jewish children to starve to death, we would never allow 500,000 British children to starve to death.

"It is racial politics, we all know that."

'Innocent children'

One of the messages, referring to the Blairs' purchase of two flats in Bristol, one of which was intended for their son Euan, read: "Dear Tony, you invested 500,000 in your son's future happiness - don't Iraqi children deserve the same consideration?"

Standing on the doorstep of number 10, Egyptian-born Fatima Mahmoud, 17, from London, warned: "A lot of very innocent children, the same age as those here, will die.

He is going to kill British people - because it will increase the chances of terrorists attacking this country

Ahmed Al-Tamimy

She said: "I want to ask Mr Blair 'How could you live with these children's blood on your hands?'

"There is no evidence Iraq has nuclear weapons."

Baghdad-born Ahmed Al-Tamimy, 18, also from London, added: "Tony Blair is not going to only kill the children of Iraq.

"He is going to kill British people - because it will increase the chances of terrorists attacking this country."

But Ahmed Ayad, 18, feared their pleas would fall on deaf ears because Mr Blair was "heartless".

'Precipice of defeat'

In his Christmas message Saddam Hussein warned that an "American-Zionist campaign against Iraq is being launched".

He said: "The tone of a threatened, large-scale military aggression against our peace-loving people is growing louder, in addition to the aggression already inflicted and the unjust blockade still in place."

The Iraqi leader said his government was committed to working with the United Nations and the Security Council.

He said the US would have a shock when it was found there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Warning against military action he said: "Those who follow Satan will go down the precipice of defeat."


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24 Dec 02 | Middle East
20 Dec 02 | Middle East
23 Dec 02 | Middle East
24 Dec 02 | Middle East
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