[Reader-list] Another report on the anti-war rally in London
aiindex at mnet.fr
Sun Oct 14 23:35:14 IST 2001
The Sunday Independent
Surprise at large turnout for national anti-war rally
By Cole Moreton
14 October 2001
Old men in Islamic dress marched with former Greenham women and dreadlocked
anti-capitalists who booed when they passed McDonald's. Yesterday's peace
rally in London was the first major public show of strength for a diverse
coalition of people opposed to war which has grown up by website and e-mail
faster than in any previous conflict.
Even the organisers were surprised at how many people turned up. "The police
expected 10,000 but we have far, far exceeded that,'' said Carol Naughton,
chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which cancelled a planned
demo against Star Wars in order to host the rally.
The police estimated 20,000 people were on the march from Hyde Park Corner
to Trafalgar Square, while the organisers put the numbers at 50,000.
It was a noisy and unruly demonstration on a hot day but people danced in
the fountains instead of causing trouble. Attempts by far-left groups such
as the Socialist Workers' Party to dominate the gathering were thwarted by
weight of numbers.
Salma Yakoob of the Stop the War Coalition in Birmingham addressed the crowd
from the plinth in Trafalgar Square. "If only the leftists had been here
today people would have said we were all lefties," she said. ''If only CND
had been here they would have said it was the middle-class elite. If it was
only the Muslims they would have called us extremists. If it was only Asians
and black people they would have said it was the ethnic minorities. Tony
Blair, we are here united against this war. You cannot dismiss us all.''
The poet Adrian Mitchell performed a piece which he had first read out in
Trafalgar Square in 1964. "It is about Vietnam,'' he said. "But it is still
relevant. It's about sitting faithfully in England while thousands of miles
away terrible atrocities are being committed in our name.''
The Stop The War Coalition announced that it intended to hold another
national rally on 18 November.
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