Tens of thousands of people marched in dozens of cities from Seoul to London today to protest the war in Iraq, but the crowds were significantly smaller than in past antiwar demonstrations.
Some peace campaigners said they were continuing to rally because the war is not over, despite the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government. Many called for withdrawal of U.S. and British forces and warned they would oppose any U.S.-led military interventions against Syria, Iran or North Korea.
On Feb. 15, millions rallied in coordinated protests around the globe. Today, rally organizers said that people were less willing to turn out now that the conflict may be almost finished and that some supporters were tiring of the events, which have been staged weekly in many European cities.
"People have been in the street for seven months," noted Pierre Villard, co-president of France's Peace Movement. He walked today in Paris at the front of a march of about 11,000 protesters, helping carry a large banner reading, "Ceasefire. Withdrawal of Troops. Justice, Peace, Democracy."
The Feb. 15 protest in Paris drew 200,000, and the demonstrations here have been steadily smaller.
Protests were held in about 40 cities worldwide, according to the BBC. One of the biggest was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where nearly 50,000 schoolchildren and others rallied. They accused the United States and Britain of committing crimes against humanity in attacking Iraq, the Associated Press reported.
Demonstrations reportedly drew 15,000 people in Calcutta, 4,000 in Seoul and 2,000 in Oslo.
In London, where more than 1 million protesters gathered in Hyde Park two months ago, police estimated today's number at perhaps 20,000. But the rally's organizers said that antiwar fervor was still strong.
"It doesn't matter how many people turn out, it's about registering a protest that a principle has been violated, international law has been violated, and everyone who cares must register a protest," former Pakistani cricket captain Imran Khan told reporters at the rally.
In Berlin, organizers put the crowd at 20,000, while police said it was 12,000. In addition to calling for an end to the war and the withdrawal of forces, the protesters urged the German government to block U.S. and British military planes from flying over Germany in support of the war.
"I have the impression that it does not do any good," Gisela Wirths, 54, a nursing teacher, said in Berlin. "A majority of the world is against the war, and it happens anyway. But the demonstrations are important and need to continue making a point."
Karsten Knecht, 39, a computer programmer in Berlin, said, "I am here to show that I am against a country playing policeman for the rest of the world."
The march in Paris featured dozens of rainbow-colored flags bearing the word "Peace." A leader chanted through a loudspeaker: "Iraq must recover its resources and democracy. The time of colonialism is finished."
The Paris marchers included a group of about 100 U.S. citizens, led by a banner reading, "Americans against U.S. occupation of Iraq."
"We are chagrined that the rest of the world is forming a very negative impression of the U.S.," said Mark Cramer, 58, a freelance writer who is registered to vote in Gaithersburg.
Asked whether the fall of Hussein justified the war, Cramer said that was not its declared purpose. "Does the looting of hospitals and anarchy now lend legitimacy to the war? We say no," Cramer said.
Correspondent Glenn Frankel in London and special correspondent Shannon Smiley in Berlin contributed to this report.