London, United Kingdom – Millions of protesters — many of them marching in the capitals of America’s traditional allies — demonstrated Saturday against possible U.S. plans to attack Iraq.
In a global outpouring of anti-war sentiment, Rome claimed the biggest turnout — 1 million according to police, while organizers claimed three times that figure.
In London, at least 750,000 people demonstrated in what police called the city’s largest demonstration ever. In Spain, several million people turned out at anti-war rallies in about 55 cities and towns across the country, with more than 500,000 each attending rallies in Madrid and Barcelona.
Spanish police gauged the Madrid turnout at 660,000. Organizers claimed nearly 2 million people gathered across the nation in one of the biggest demonstrations since the 1975 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.
More than 70,000 people marched in Amsterdam in the largest Netherlands demonstration since anti-nuclear rallies of the 1980s.
Berlin had up to half-a-million people on the streets, and Paris was estimated to have had about 100,000.
In New York, rally organizers estimated the crowd at up to 500,000 people. City police provided no estimate of the crowd, which stretched 20 blocks deep and two blocks wide.
“Peace! Peace! Peace!” Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said while leading an ecumenical service near U.N. headquarters. “Let America listen to the rest of the world — and the rest of the world is saying, ‘Give the inspectors time.'”
London’s marchers hoped — in the words of keynote speaker the Rev. Jesse Jackson — to “turn up the heat” on Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush’s staunchest European ally for his tough Iraq policy.
Rome protesters showed their disagreement with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s support for Bush, while demonstrators in Paris and Berlin backed the skeptical stances of their governments.
“What I would say to Mr. Blair is stop toadying up to the Americans and listen to your own people, us, for once,” said Elsie Hinks, 77, who marched in London with her husband, Sidney, a retired Church of England priest.
Tommaso Palladini, 56, who traveled from Milan to Rome, said, “You don’t fight terrorism with a preventive war. You fight terrorism by creating more justice in the world.”
Several dozen marchers from Genoa held up pictures of Iraqi artists.
“We’re carrying these photos to show the other face of the Iraqi people that the TV doesn’t show,” said Giovanna Marenzana, 38.
Some leaders in German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government participated in the Berlin protest, which turned the tree-lined boulevard between the Brandenburg Gate and the 19th-century Victory Column into a sea of banners, balloons emblazoned with “No war in Iraq” and demonstrators swaying to live music. Police estimated the crowd at between 300,000 and 500,000.
“We Germans in particular have a duty to do everything to ensure that war — above all a war of aggression — never again becomes a legitimate means of policy,” shouted Friedrich Schorlemmer, a Lutheran pastor and former East German pro-democracy activist.
In the Paris crowd at the Place Denfert-Rochereau, a large American flag bore the black inscription, “Leave us alone.”
Gerald Lenoir, 41, of Berkeley, Calif., came to Paris to support demonstrators.
“I am here to protest my government’s aggression against Iraq,” he said. “Iraq does not pose a security threat to the United States and there are no links with al-Qaida.”
In southern France, about 10,000 people demonstrated in Toulouse against the United States, chanting: “They bomb, they exploit, they pollute, enough of this barbarity.”
60,000 turned out in Oslo, Norway.
50,000 in bitter cold in Brussels, Belgium.
35,000 in frigid Stockholm, Sweden.
80,000 marched in Dublin, Ireland.
60,000 in Seville, Spain.
40,000 in Bern, Switzerland.
30,000 in Glasgow, Scotland.
25,000 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
15,000 in Vienna, Austria.
20,000 in Montreal, Canada.
15,000 in Toronto, Canada.
5,000 in Cape Town, South Africa.
4,000 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
5,000 in Tokyo, Japan.
2,000 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“War is not a solution, war is a problem,” Czech philosopher Erazim Kohak told about 500 people in Prague, the Czech Republic.
In Mexico City, as many as 10,000 people — including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu — snarled traffic for blocks before rallying near the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy. Demonstrators beat drums, clutched white balloons and waved handmade signs saying, “War No, Peace Yes.”
In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Iraqis, many carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, demonstrated to support leader Saddam Hussein and denounce the United States.
“Our swords are out of their sheaths, ready for battle,” read one of hundreds of banners carried by marchers along Palestine Street, a broad Baghdad avenue.
In Damascus, the capital of neighboring Syria, an estimated 200,000 protesters chanted anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans while marching to the People’s Assembly.
Najjah Attar, a former Syrian cabinet minister, accused Washington of attempting to change the region’s map.
“The U.S. wants to encroach upon our own norms, concepts and principles,” she said in Damascus. “They are reminding us of the Nazi and fascist times.”
An estimated 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians marched together against war in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.
In Ukraine, some 2,000 people rallied in snowy Kiev’s central square. Anti-globalists led a peaceful “Rock Against War” protest joined by communists, socialists, Kurds and pacifists.
“We want to say that war is evil and that we who survived one know that better than anyone,” said Majda Hadzic, 54.
In divided Cyprus, about 500 Greeks and Turks braved heavy rain to briefly block a British air base runway.
Several thousand protesters in Athens, Greece, unfurled a giant banner across the wall of the Acropolis — “NATO, U.S. and EU equals War” — before heading toward the U.S. Embassy.
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller said the Greek protesters’ indignation was misplaced.
“They should be demonstrating outside the Iraqi embassy,” he said before the march.
About 900 Puerto Ricans chanted anti-war slogans against the possible invasion of Iraq. One man waved a U.S. flag on which the stars were replaced with skulls.
In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began efforts to unite South American nations against a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Police estimated 1,500 marchers.