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Thousands March Against Iraq War

Fewer Turn Out for Rallies Than in 2003

By Janelle Stecklein
Associated Press
Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page A12

LONDON, March 19 -- Tens of thousands of antiwar protesters demonstrated across Europe on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In London, the site of perhaps the largest protest, 45,000 people marched from Hyde Park past the U.S. Embassy.

In Istanbul, about 15,000 people protested against the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Hundreds of protesters march in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, with an effigy of President Bush during antiwar demonstrations. (Alexandre Meneghini -- AP)

But the rallies were nowhere near as big as those in February 2003, just before the war began, when millions marched in cities around the world to urge President Bush and his allies not to attack Iraq.

With international forces still facing violent opposition in Iraq, protesters were divided about what to demand from leaders. While some wanted a full troop withdrawal, others argued that it would leave Iraqis in a worse position than before the invasion.

"We got the Iraqis into this mess, we need to help them out of it," said Kit MacLean, 29, waiting near Hyde Park's Speaker's Corner before the London march began.

Police estimated about 45,000 demonstrators marched from the park past the U.S. Embassy and on to Trafalgar Square.

Some protesters worried Bush might be planning another war in the Middle East or elsewhere.

"After Iraq -- Iran? Syria? Cuba?" read one placard. "Stop This Man," said another, alongside a picture showing Bush with devil's horns.

One man carried fake bombs with American flags painted on them, and a dartboard map of the world showed a U.S. missile sticking out of Iraq.

Security was heavy as the demonstrators moved past the U.S. Embassy. Cement barricades and metal fences blocked the building, as they have since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon.

Two former British soldiers placed a cardboard coffin bearing the words "100,000 dead" outside the embassy.

"George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam," marchers chanted.

In the southern Turkish city of Adana, home to a military base used by U.S. forces, protesters laid a black wreath in front of the U.S. consulate to protest the war, the Anatolia news agency reported.

In Athens, about 3,000 protesters brought the city center to a standstill for three hours and painted outlines of bodies outside the U.S. Embassy.

Hundreds also turned out in Sweden and Norway.

"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth in Stockholm. "People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day."

With music and banners, marchers in Rome demanded the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq. "Iraq to the Iraqis!" read one banner. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said this week that he intended to begin withdrawing Italian troops in September.

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