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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 09:24 GMT
University heads in anti-war protest
Oxford University students
Oxford students and staff signed the petition
Anti-war campaigners from Oxford University are handing in a 2,000-name petition to Downing Street.

More than 700 staff and 1,300 students have signed up, including four current and former college heads, 29 fellows of the Royal Society and British Academy and nearly 80 professors.

Among them are Richard Dawkins, Oxford University's professor of the public understanding of science and author of The Selfish Gene, and Andrew Graham, master of Balliol College.

The petition, being handed over on Thursday, was set up by two Oxford students, Una Galani, a first year English undergraduate, and Kimon Daltas, a music graduate, both from St Catherine's College.

'Unelected bully'

Mr Daltas said: "The number and intellectual calibre of people who have signed this petition is proof that opposition to the war is not a case of foolish pacifism but of knowledgeable concern about its legitimacy."

Professor Dawkins said that while the first Gulf War was prompted by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, there was no "specific aggressive act" this time.

He added: "Bush is the aggressor. Britain has no business following the lead of this unelected bully."

The on-line petition itself reads: "We, the undersigned, find the case for launching a pre-emptive war against Iraq unconvincing and morally questionable.

"We urge the Government not to embark on a course of action that will bring death and suffering to the people of Iraq."

Professor Stephen Castles, director of Oxford's refugee studies centre, which has just received the Queen's Anniversary Prize for higher and further education, said: "A war against Iraq is certain to lead to enormous suffering for the civilian population."

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