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28 September 2002

The Muslim News’s Report on the 28 September 2002 March

A week after the farmers took London by storm, it was the turn of anti-war protesters to lay siege to the city on Saturday when thousands of Britons from across the country poured into the capital to denounce the Prime Minister, Tony Blair's backing for U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq.

Though the turnout did not quite match the claims made by the organisers, there was no mistaking the anger of the protesters as they marched past the Westminster and Downing Street carrying banners which proclaimed: "Stop War'', "Not in Our name'' and "Boycott Murder''.

The roughly 5-km stretch from Embankment to Hyde Park was awash with demonstrators who included leading political lights, film and media personalities, trade unionists, religious figures and Gulf War veterans. The march, billed as one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations seen in Europe in decades, took nearly two hours to reach Hyde Park where protesters were addressed by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, the left-wing Labour leader, Tony Benn, a former U.N. weapons' inspector, Scott Ritter, and a number of ruling party MPs opposed to British military involvement in Iraq.

Activists of Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of UK, who jointly organised the march, said the one-point message they intended to send out to the world was that Mr. Blair's stance on Iraq did not reflect the wishes of the ordinary people of Britain.

``What Blair is doing doesn't represent the wishes of the British people,'' Ken Loach, one of Britain's leading film directors said. A prominent dissident Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, was more assertive saying: "If Tony Blair thinks he has got Parliament on his side, he has not. If he thinks he's got the country on his side, he has not.''

The pro-Iraqi party MP, George Galloway, warned that West Asia would erupt into "molten lava'' if Iraq was attacked.

Many protesters said they had never attended a march before, but had decided to "stand up and be counted'' on this occasion because they believed Britain was being dragged into a war which "nobody but President Bush'' wanted.

"It is not a Muslim show but a protest by ordinary, decent and peace-loving Britons,'' one woman demonstrator said…




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