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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Protests in Over 100 U.S. Cities, Towns Against Wa|
|12/11/02 at 20:23:21|
Protests in Over 100 U.S. Cities, Towns Against War on Iraq
WASHINGTON, December 11 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) - Americans took to the streets Tuesday, December 10, to protest a possible war on Iraq, with 100 people arrested during demonstrations.
Organizers said marches and rallies were planned in about 100 towns and cities to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
Although polls show that a majority of Americans support military action against Iraq if it refuses to disarm, the protesters said they believed their message was beginning to be heard by President George W. Bush, MSNBC’s online news service.
“I really think this anti-war movement has slowed down the war machine. Now we’ve got to ramp it up,“ said Medea Benjamin, a member of the Women’s Peace Vigil at the Washington rally, which started outside an Army recruitment center.
“Public opinion is the only buffer keeping us from going to war,” she said.
“I know that to keep my family as safe as possible, I have to try to stop this war,” said Benjamin, a mother of two whose small group has demonstrated daily outside the White House for weeks.
“This war will be disastrous,” said one of the demonstrators, Pat Elder.
“Violence is not the answer to violence. Peace can only be attained through justice.”
Another protester, Washington University instructor Karen Pomeranz, criticized both Democrats and Republicans for having favored U.S. military budgets at the expense of bettering public social programs.
“They spent the last 20 years gutting public health, housing, welfare, education and other programs that give us real security,” she said.
Sarah, 25, a Washington demonstrator who asked that her last name not be used, said, “It’s cold out here, definitely, but I guess it shows people we’re serious about it by being here.
“We need to show people there are lots of Americans who don’t agree with this, even if you don’t hear that message all that often,” she said.
“This oil war has got to go,” chanted the demonstrators.
“Be a patriot — question the war monsters,” said one.
World War II veteran Ray Kaepplinger was among 40 people picketing outside a Chicago federal office building as 20 others were being arrested in the lobby for criminal trespass.
Kaepplinger, 84, said he had “been through the plume of hell in New Guinea” and did not want to see another war erupt.
“As far as I’m concerned, President George II is as bad as Saddam Hussein,” he said.
About half of the 200 protesters demonstrating outside the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York were arrested for disorderly conduct, including clergy members.
Across the country in Sacramento, California, nine were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to a federal courthouse.
“It’s my first time ever,” said Maria Cornejo, 41, a mother of four from Dixon, California
“That’s how important this is.”
Cardboard coffins with children's pictures displayed during an anti-war demonstration in California
The group United for Peace counted more than 120 planned vigils, acts of civil disobedience and marches in 37 states from Alaska to Florida.
Protests were being organized by fax and over the Internet by anarchists and Communists, evangelicals and Quakers.
In the Mennonite community of Goshen, people gathered soap, bandages, towels and other items to send to the poor of Iraq.
Sharon Baker, 64, brought in three kits for shipment through the Mennonite Central Committee.
“I’m opposed to any war, any time, anywhere, any place because war doesn’t solve anything,” she said.
Tuesday’s protests, planned across the country from North Carolina to Alaska, were organized by a range of religious, academic, business, human rights and women’s groups.
Meanwhile, about 100 U.S. television and film stars including Matt Damon, Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen signed a petition released Tuesday against a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq, warning that “war talk in Washington is alarming and unnecessary.”
Samuel L. Jackson, Mia Farrow, Kim Basinger, Uma Thurman, Tim Robbins and rockers REM also put their names on the list of those opposed to such a U.S.-led strike, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported Wednesday.
Stars delivered the petition to the press at a Hollywood restaurant frequented by stars; on hand was Martin Sheen, who plays a fictional U.S. president on the NBC television series “The West Wing.”
In Washington “they made up their minds a long time ago about going to war. (It’s a) personal feud, that’s part of it,” said Sheen alluding to the Gulf War under then President George Bush, father of the incumbent, which did not bring down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The petition, also signed by retired admiral Eugene Carroll and Edward Peck, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, was announced at a news conference hosted by Mike Farrell, who is co-founder of a new group called Artists United to Win Without War.
Mike Farrell said “a tendency of this administration is to imply that anyone who opposes them is somehow less loyal and patriotic. That’s not right.”
“We support rigorous U.N. weapons inspections to assure Iraq’s effective disarmament.
“However, a preemptive military invasion of Iraq will harm American national interests,” said the signatories in their letter.
“Such a war will increase human suffering, arouse animosity toward our country, increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the economy, and undermine our moral standing in the world. It will make us less, not more, secure.
“We reject the doctrine — a reversal of long-held American tradition that our country, alone, has the right to launch first-strike attacks,” read the letter.
The signatories underlined that the “valid U.S. and U.N. objective of disarming Saddam Hussein can be achieved through legal diplomatic means.
“There is no need for war. Let us instead devote our resources to improving the security and well-being of people here at home and around the world.”
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