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Antiwar Protests: One Million in London, Only 600 in Cairo
By ROBERT FISK
Francine Eisner, reporting for The Sikh Times from New York City, submitted the following comment: "I was at the peace march on Saturday [Feb. 15]. Regardless of the reports in the mainstream media, there were at least half a million people there. I didn't witness any violence and the police I spoke to were very cordial. Two of them quoted a figure of half a million, but the 'official reports,' of course, said there were about 100,000. There's never been an antiwar movement like this one. It is unprecedented in human history. But alas, it has come too late. We will certainly go to war with Iraq, probably before the end of Feb. I do, however, think the mass protest, 12 million people worldwide, is the beginning of something. If we don't blow ourselves up first, there will, at some point, be an end to war. It will be made illegal. However, even if I have 40 more years on this planet (a really long life), I don't think I will live to see it happen."
The Independent, Feb. 18, 2003
"Could anything be more pathetic than the Arab demonstration against war? A million Britons marched in London, more than half a million Spaniards in Madrid; 200,000 in Paris and New York. And Cairo? Well, just 600 Egyptians turned up in their capital to protest at America's forthcoming invasion of brotherly Iraq - surrounded by 3,000 security police. By way of contrast - brave contrast - 2,000 Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against the war. . . . President Mubarak of Egypt has made it all too clear there is little he can do to rein in President Bush. King Abdullah of Jordan has said there is almost 'nothing' the Arabs can do to avert war. Which means Arabs ask, more and more, what their leaders are for. The presidents and kings of the Arab world agree with their people, it seems, but do not wish them to express the views they themselves hold."
"True, 200,000 Syrians protested against the war in Damascus. But no one protests in Syria unless they are in accord with their government, which means that this particular 'popular' protest was arranged by the Arab Socialist Baath Party of Syria. But at least the Syrians did not carry, as their neighbours in Beirut did, portraits of Saddam Hussein. For in Arab capital cities, there is a special problem. Repeatedly, Arab opposition to war is trammelled up with Arab support for the Iraqi dictator. . . . Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrilla army, castigated the Arabs for their 'silence' and urged them to 're-evaluate' their attitude towards Europe following the protests against war . . . Sayed Nasrallah also deplored the fact that 'the greatest Muslim demonstration in history' - the gathering of two million Muslim pilgrims at Mecca for the Haj - had not used the slogan 'Death to America' or 'No to War.' "