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Violence marks worldwide protests

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Police clashed with 30,000 anti-war demonstrators Friday outside the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, setting off an exchange of gunfire that killed three people and injured dozens. Similar outrage over the U.S.-led assault on Iraq spilled into streets in cities around the world.

The protest in San'a, Yemen, was the most violent there since price-hike riots six years ago. Hundreds of police ringing the embassy compound tried to stop the crowd with tear gas and water cannons before firing automatic rifles into the air.

Protesters kept up their push, picking up stones and tear gas canisters and hurling them at police lines. Crowds shouted, "No American and no British Embassy on Yemeni land!," and, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

Riot police fired rubber bullets at a smaller crowd in Bahrain, while water cannons and tear gas were used in Egypt and Jordan. In Cairo, 10,000 people chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they gathered under tight security after Friday's weekly prayers. Thirty-five protesters and eight police officers were injured in Egypt and at least 10 were injured in Bahrain.

In his sermon, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar and the Muslim world's top Sunni cleric, called for jihad, or holy war, to support the Iraqi people but avoided any reference to the United States or the Iraqi regime.

About 500 Palestinians marched through the al-Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus, Syria, with posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat. They condemned Arab leaders who have aided the U.S. war effort and chanted, "Oh, Saddam! Destroy Kuwait! Destroy Kuwait's prince!"

Non-Arab anger

Anger over the war was not confined to the Muslim world.

More than 150,000 people protested in Athens, Greece, and police fired tear gas at small groups of protesters hurling rocks and gasoline bombs at officers guarding the glass-and-marble U.S. Embassy.

A four-hour nationwide strike called in opposition to the war brought Greece to a standstill and helped swell the ranks of demonstrators. Schools and universities closed to allow students to protest. The strike shut down airports, causing dozens of domestic and international flights to be delayed or canceled.

Consumer unions called for a boycott of all American products, from clothes to movies.

Hundreds of Greek Cypriot students tossed eggs and stones at the U.S. Embassy building in Nicosia, chanting, "Drop Bush, not bombs!"

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, India, Thailand, China and other countries across Asia.

In Tokyo, at least 11,000 people took advantage of warm spring weather and a national holiday to march for peace. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi backs U.S. efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein and has promised to provide aid for refugees and help rebuild Iraq after fighting ends.

A poll released Friday by Kyodo news service found that just 27.1 percent of Japanese surveyed approve of the U.S. decision to disarm Iraq by force -- but that number has more than doubled since last weekend. Kyodo provided no margin of error for its telephone poll of 1,093 Japanese.

In central London on Friday, protesters on bicycles blocked Parliament Square, and Greenpeace used a hot air balloon to drop peace leaflets over a British air force base shortly before U.S. B-52 bombers took off.

In Germany, police broke up a sit-down protest outside the U.S. military's European Command in Stuttgart. In Berlin, schoolchildren placed candles on a street leading to the U.S. Embassy, which was protected by heavy concrete barriers and fences.

Moses Lehploe, a university student in Monrovia, the capital of war-torn Liberia, said the United States had no choice but war.

"A stubborn sore needs a drastic cure," he said. "George Bush was made to deal with ruthless people like Saddam."

U.S. demonstrations

Undeterred by mass arrests, raucous bands of demonstrators marched through the streets of San Francisco on Friday in the largest of anti-war protests around the country.

"We will sustain this for many days. This is really just the start," said Jamie Hurlbut, an office worker who joined protesters blocking downtown San Francisco traffic Friday after eight hours in police custody Thursday.

From demonstrations near the White House to a march through downtown Boulder, Colo., from candlelight vigils to traffic disruptions, anti-war demonstrations continued as U.S. troops marched toward Baghdad.

The numbers of arrests were down markedly from Thursday, when police made more than 2,000, including 1,600 in San Francisco. By Friday afternoon, about 300 people had been arrested in demonstrations around the nation, including 150 in San Francisco, 65 in Chicago and 26 in Washington, D.C.

At a Columbus, Ohio, rally to support U.S. soldiers, several hundred people brought shaving cream, toothpaste and other supplies for the troops. In return, Gov. Bob Taft's office distributed 1,000 red, white and blue ribbons.

Many anti-war demonstrations focused on federal buildings, including a few dozen who gathered outside the federal building in Seattle, and the offices of U.S. senators, including Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman in Hartford, Conn., and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer in New York.


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