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Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 18:20 GMT
Organisers hail anti-war protest
Marchers in Glasgow
The route took protesters through the centre of Glasgow
Organisers said they were "thrilled" as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Glasgow to declare their opposition to war against Iraq.

Protesters walked through the centre of the city before staging a rally outside the Scottish and Exhibition Conference Centre (SECC), the location of Labour's conference.

Strathclyde Police estimated that 30,000 people took part in the march, which the force described as the biggest protest in the city since the anti-poll tax demonstrations in March 1990.

However, David Mackenzie of march organisers Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War put the figure at more than 80,000.

Protester
The march was the largest in more than 10 years
"We are absolutely thrilled with the response," he said.

"It sends out a clear message to Tony Blair that Scotland is not going to have his war. We believe this movement is going to grow and grow.

"The breadth of people who were here today transcended politics and there were protesters from all walks of Scottish life and culture."

Strathclyde Police said the march passed off peacefully with only four arrests for minor offences.

Organisers staged a noisy "Jericho Rumpus" outside the SECC shortly after 1400 GMT, when it had been expected that Mr Blair would be making his speech.

However, the prime minister took the platform shortly after 1030 GMT and missed the protest.

More time

ScotRail said the numbers travelling to Glasgow for the march had far exceeded expectations.

The number of carriages was doubled, but the train operator had to turn away passengers who planned to make the journey from Edinburgh.

There were also long tailbacks on the M8 motorway travelling eastbound into Glasgow.

I believe that war is inevitable and that it became inevitable when George Bush was sworn in as US President

Alex Mackenzie
Protester
Speakers at the rally included SNP leader John Swinney, Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan, Scottish Liberal Democrat Robert Brown and Glasgow Lord Provost Alex Mosson.

Mr Mosson, the first to address the crowd, said: "We are saying quite clearly, and we are the voice of the majority, that we don't want this war.

"If Tony Blair can't hear our voices from the SECC, then he will hear them in Downing Street."

Rev Alan McDonald, convener of the Church of Scotland's church and nation committee, said parishes across Scotland were expressing "horror" at the prospect of war.

Open in new window : Anti-war protests
Your protest pictures from around the world

"Our concern is for the ordinary people of Iraq, who are not 'collateral damage', but are the men, women and children who will be underneath the incoming bombs and missiles," he said.

"No matter how smart the weapons are, no matter how sophisticated the targeting is supposed to be, it is the children, women and men who will suffer and die, as they always do in modern war."

The marchers included 60-year-old Brenda King from Barnton in Edinburgh, who was accompanied by her husband Alan.

She said: "I think the war is about oil. If they grew carrots, we would not bomb them.

"We have not been involved in a protest for a long time. But it is such a clear issue and we feel it is important."

Alex Mackenzie, 57, from Clydebank, said: "I believe this war is immoral.

Campaigner with banner
Campaigners came from across Scotland

"But sadly I believe that war is inevitable and that it became inevitable when George Bush was sworn in as US President."

Sinclair Laird, 48, from Hamilton said: "You can see the number of people that are against this war.

"This is the first time I have felt this animated in a long time.

"I think if we have a democratic government it will have to pay some attention to the public's opposition to this war, which is being echoed by protests around the world today."

A rally also took place in Shetland, where more than 600 people paraded through Lerwick.

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BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie
"Glasgow has seen one of its biggest ever demonstrations"

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15 Feb 03 | Scotland
15 Feb 03 | Scotland
15 Feb 03 | Scotland
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