Adamant: Hardest metal

The True Clash of Civilizations

foreignpolicy.com
By Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris

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Samuel Huntington was only half right. The cultural fault line that divides the West and the Muslim world is not about democracy but sex. According to a new survey, Muslims and their Western counterparts want democracy, yet they are worlds apart when it comes to attitudes toward divorce, abortion, gender equality, and gay rights–which may not bode well for democracy’s future in the Middle East.

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Suggested ReadingsDemocracy promotion in Islamic countries is now one of the Bush administration’s most popular talking points. “We reject the condescending notion that freedom will not grow in the Middle East,” Secretary of State Colin Powell declared last December as he unveiled the White House’s new Middle East Partnership Initiative to encourage political and economic reform in Arab countries. Likewise, Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s national security advisor, promised last September that the United States is committed to “the march of freedom in the Muslim world.”

But does the Muslim world march to the beat of a different drummer? Despite Bush’s optimistic pronouncement that there is “no clash of civilizations” when it comes to “the common rights and needs of men and women,” others are not so sure. Samuel Huntington’s controversial 1993 thesis—that the cultural division between “Western Christianity” and “Orthodox Christianity and Islam” is the new fault line for conflict—resonates more loudly than ever since September 11. Echoing Huntington, columnist Polly Toynbee argued in the British Guardian last November, “What binds together a globalized force of some extremists from many continents is a united hatred of Western values that seems to them to spring from Judeo-Christianity.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Democratic Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, after sitting through hours of testimony on U.S.-Islamic relations on Capitol Hill last October, testily blurted, “Why doesn’t democracy grab hold in the Middle East? What is there about the culture and the people and so on where democracy just doesn’t seem to be something they strive for and work for?”

Huntington’s response would be that the Muslim world lacks the core political values that gave birth to representative democracy in Western civilization: separation of religious and secular authority, rule of law and social pluralism, parliamentary institutions of representative government, and protection of individual rights and civil liberties as the buffer between citizens and the power of the state. This claim seems all too plausible given the failure of electoral democracy to take root throughout the Middle East and North Africa. According to the latest Freedom House rankings, almost two thirds of the 192 countries around the world are now electoral democracies. But among the 47 countries with a Muslim majority, only one fourth are electoral democracies—and none of the core Arabic-speaking societies falls into this category.

Yet this circumstantial evidence does little to prove Huntington correct, since it reveals nothing about the underlying beliefs of Muslim publics. Indeed, there has been scant empirical evidence whether Western and Muslim societies exhibit deeply divergent values—that is, until now. The cumulative results of the two most recent waves of the World Values Survey (WVS), conducted in 1995–96 and 2000–2002, provide an extensive body of relevant evidence. Based on questionnaires that explore values and beliefs in more than 70 countries, the WVS is an investigation of sociocultural and political change that encompasses over 80 percent of the world’s population.

A comparison of the data yielded by these surveys in Muslim and non-Muslim societies around the globe confirms the first claim in Huntington’s thesis: Culture does matter—indeed, it matters a lot. Historical religious traditions have left an enduring imprint on contemporary values. However, Huntington is mistaken in assuming that the core clash between the West and Islam is over political values. At this point in history, societies throughout the world (Muslim and Judeo-Christian alike) see democracy as the best form of government. Instead, the real fault line between the West and Islam, which Huntington’s theory completely overlooks, concerns gender equality and sexual liberalization. In other words, the values separating the two cultures have much more to do with eros than demos. As younger generations in the West have gradually become more liberal on these issues, Muslim nations have remained the most traditional societies in the world.

This gap in values mirrors the widening economic divide between the West and the Muslim world. Commenting on the disenfranchisement of women throughout the Middle East, the United Nations Development Programme observed last summer that “no society can achieve the desired state of well-being and human development, or compete in a globalizing world, if half its people remain marginalized and disempowered.” But this “sexual clash of civilizations” taps into far deeper issues than how Muslim countries treat women. A society’s commitment to gender equality and sexual liberalization proves time and again to be the most reliable indicator of how strongly that society supports principles of tolerance and egalitarianism. Thus, the people of the Muslim world overwhelmingly want democracy, but democracy may not be sustainable in their societies.

Testing Huntington
Huntington argues that “ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, [and] the separation of church and state” often have little resonance outside the West. Moreover, he holds that Western efforts to promote these ideas provoke a violent backlash against “human rights imperialism.” To test these propositions, we categorized the countries included in the WVS according to the nine major contemporary civilizations, based largely on the historical religious legacy of each society. The survey includes 22 countries representing Western Christianity (a West European culture that also encompasses North America, Australia, and New Zealand), 10 Central European nations (sharing a Western Christian heritage, but which also lived under Communist rule), 11 societies with a Muslim majority (Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey), 12 traditionally Orthodox societies (such as Russia and Greece), 11 predominately Catholic Latin American countries, 4 East Asian societies shaped by Sino-Confucian values, 5 sub-Saharan Africa countries, plus Japan and India.

Despite Huntington’s claim of a clash of civilizations between the West and the rest, the WVS reveals that, at this point in history, democracy has an overwhelmingly positive image throughout the world. In country after country, a clear majority of the population describes “having a democratic political system” as either “good” or “very good.” These results represent a dramatic change from the 1930s and 1940s, when fascist regimes won overwhelming mass approval in many societies; and for many decades, Communist regimes had widespread support. But in the last decade, democracy became virtually the only political model with global appeal, no matter what the culture. With the exception of Pakistan, most of the Muslim countries surveyed think highly of democracy: In Albania, Egypt, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Morocco, and Turkey, 92 to 99 percent of the public endorsed democratic institutions—a higher proportion than in the United States (89 percent)[see chart].

Yet, as heartening as these results may be, paying lip service to democracy does not necessarily prove that people genuinely support basic democratic norms—or that their leaders will allow them to have democratic institutions. Although constitutions of authoritarian states such as China profess to embrace democratic ideals such as freedom of religion, the rulers deny it in practice. In Iran’s 2000 elections, reformist candidates captured nearly three quarters of the seats in parliament, but a theocratic elite still holds the reins of power. Certainly, it’s a step in the right direction if most people in a country endorse the idea of democracy. But this sentiment needs to be complemented by deeper underlying attitudes such as interpersonal trust and tolerance of unpopular groups—and these values must ultimately be accepted by those who control the army and secret police.

The WVS reveals that, even after taking into account differences in economic and political development, support for democratic institutions is just as strong among those living in Muslim societies as in Western (or other) societies [see chart]. For instance, a solid majority of people living in Western and Muslim countries gives democracy high marks as the most efficient form of government, with 68 percent disagreeing with assertions that “democracies are indecisive” and “democracies aren’t good at maintaining order.” (All other cultural regions and countries, except East Asia and Japan, are far more critical.) And an equal number of respondents on both sides of the civilizational divide (61 percent) firmly reject authoritarian governance, expressing disapproval of “strong leaders” who do not “bother with parliament and elections.” Muslim societies display greater support for religious authorities playing an active societal role than do Western societies. Yet this preference for religious authorities is less a cultural division between the West and Islam than it is a gap between the West and many other less secular societies around the globe, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. For instance, citizens in some Muslim societies agree overwhelmingly with the statement that “politicians who do not believe in God are unfit for public office” (88 percent in Egypt, 83 percent in Iran, and 71 percent in Bangladesh), but this statement also garners strong support in the Philippines (71 percent), Uganda (60 percent), and Venezuela (52 percent). Even in the United States, about two fifths of the public believes that atheists are unfit for public office.

However, when it comes to attitudes toward gender equality and sexual liberalization, the cultural gap between Islam and the West widens into a chasm. On the matter of equal rights and opportunities for women—measured by such questions as whether men make better political leaders than women or whether university education is more important for boys than for girls—Western and Muslim countries score 82 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Muslim societies are also distinctively less permissive toward homosexuality, abortion, and divorce.

These issues are part of a broader syndrome of tolerance, trust, political activism, and emphasis on individual autonomy that constitutes “self-expression values.” The extent to which a society emphasizes these self-expression values has a surprisingly strong bearing on the emergence and survival of democratic institutions. Among all the countries included in the WVS, support for gender equality—a key indicator of tolerance and personal freedom—is closely linked with a society’s level of democracy [see chart].

In every stable democracy, a majority of the public disagrees with the statement that “men make better political leaders than women.” None of the societies in which less than 30 percent of the public rejects this statement (such as Jordan, Nigeria, and Belarus) is a true democracy. In China, one of the world’s least democratic countries, a majority of the public agrees that men make better political leaders than women, despite a party line that has long emphasized gender equality (Mao Zedong once declared, “women hold up half the sky”). In practice, Chinese women occupy few positions of real power and face widespread discrimination in the workplace. India is a borderline case. The country is a long-standing parliamentary democracy with an independent judiciary and civilian control of the armed forces, yet it is also marred by a weak rule of law, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial killings. The status of Indian women reflects this duality. Women’s rights are guaranteed in the constitution, and Indira Gandhi led the nation for 15 years. Yet domestic violence and forced prostitution remain prevalent throughout the country, and, according to the WVS, almost 50 percent of the Indian populace believes only men should run the government.

The way a society views homosexuality constitutes another good litmus test of its commitment to equality. Tolerance of well-liked groups is never a problem. But if someone wants to gauge how tolerant a nation really is, find out which group is the most disliked, and then ask whether members of that group should be allowed to hold public meetings, teach in schools, and work in government. Today, relatively few people express overt hostility toward other classes, races, or religions, but rejection of homosexuals is widespread. In response to a WVS question about whether homosexuality is justifiable, about half of the world’s population say “never.” But, as is the case with gender equality, this attitude is directly proportional to a country’s level of democracy. Among authoritarian and quasi-democratic states, rejection of homosexuality is deeply entrenched: 99 percent in both Egypt and Bangladesh, 94 percent in Iran, 92 percent in China, and 71 percent in India. By contrast, these figures are much lower among respondents in stable democracies: 32 percent in the United States, 26 percent in Canada, 25 percent in Britain, and 19 percent in Germany.

Muslim societies are neither uniquely nor monolithically low on tolerance toward sexual orientation and gender equality. Many of the Soviet successor states rank as low as most Muslim societies. However, on the whole, Muslim countries not only lag behind the West but behind all other societies as well [see chart]. Perhaps more significant, the figures reveal the gap between the West and Islam is even wider among younger age groups. This pattern suggests that the younger generations in Western societies have become progressively more egalitarian than their elders, but the younger generations in Muslim societies have remained almost as traditional as their parents and grandparents, producing an expanding cultural gap.

Clash of Conclusions
“The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation,” President Bush declared in a commencement speech at West Point last summer. He’s right. Any claim of a “clash of civilizations” based on fundamentally different political goals held by Western and Muslim societies represents an oversimplification of the evidence. Support for the goal of democracy is surprisingly widespread among Muslim publics, even among those living in authoritarian societies. Yet Huntington is correct when he argues that cultural differences have taken on a new importance, forming the fault lines for future conflict. Although nearly the entire world pays lip service to democracy, there is still no global consensus on the self-expression values—such as social tolerance, gender equality, freedom of speech, and interpersonal trust—that are crucial to democracy. Today, these divergent values constitute the real clash between Muslim societies and the West.

But economic development generates changed attitudes in virtually any society. In particular, modernization compels systematic, predictable changes in gender roles: Industrialization brings women into the paid work force and dramatically reduces fertility rates. Women become literate and begin to participate in representative government but still have far less power than men. Then, the postindustrial phase brings a shift toward greater gender equality as women move into higher-status economic roles in management and gain political influence within elected and appointed bodies. Thus, relatively industrialized Muslim societies such as Turkey share the same views on gender equality and sexual liberalization as other new democracies.

Even in established democracies, changes in cultural attitudes—and eventually, attitudes toward democracy—seem to be closely linked with modernization. Women did not attain the right to vote in most historically Protestant societies until about 1920, and in much of Roman Catholic Europe until after World War II. In 1945, only 3 percent of the members of parliaments around the world were women. In 1965, the figure rose to 8 percent, in 1985 to 12 percent, and in 2002 to 15 percent.

The United States cannot expect to foster democracy in the Muslim world simply by getting countries to adopt the trappings of democratic governance, such as holding elections and having a parliament. Nor is it realistic to expect that nascent democracies in the Middle East will inspire a wave of reforms reminiscent of the velvet revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in the final days of the Cold War. A real commitment to democratic reform will be measured by the willingness to commit the resources necessary to foster human development in the Muslim world. Culture has a lasting impact on how societies evolve. But culture does not have to be destiny.

Ronald Inglehart is program director at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and directs the World Values Survey.

Pippa Norris is the McGuire lecturer in comparative politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. They are the authors of Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change Around the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

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At least 10,000 protest in Washington against "endless war"

Space War-France Presse
WASHINGTON (AFP) Apr 13, 2003

At least 10,000 people held a noisy protest Saturday in central Washington against the US invasion of Iraq, warning that the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime was just the start of an "endless war" for world domination.

"We're not there (in Iraq) for democracy," said Edward Wolfe, 75, who travelled from New Jersey for the march. "We're not there for liberation. I honestly think we're there for power."

Ed Twigg, from West Virginia, shouted over the sound of beating drums: "The agenda is just to continue on" with a series of occupation wars.

Protests in Washington and elsewhere in North America, including Montreal, San Francisco and Los Angeles, were called in solidarity with a day of protests around the world, including in Britain, Italy, Japan and South Korea, with up to half a million demonstrating in Rome.

"We're calling to stop this series of endless wars, to stop this occupation of Iraq and the Middle East," said Dustin Langley, a volunteer with the US protests' sponsor, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or ANSWER.

The "axis of evil" fingered by US President George W. Bush more than a year ago was no more than a "list of targets," Langley said, noting that Washington has "already started threatening Syria."

A protester Saturday carried a placard with a checklist entitled "Bush's list", with Afghanistan and Iraq ticked off and Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and China next in line.

A counter-demonstrator, Adam Phillips of New York, bore a placard advocating the overthrow of Syria's ruling Baath party, which espouses the same pan-Arab ideology as the deposed Baath regime in Iraq.

"We've declared a global war on terrorism, (and with the defeat of Saddam) we can't think that it's done," he told AFP.

The United States has long called on Damascus to abandon support for what it has branded "terrorist" organizations, notably Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Many of Saturday's marchers voiced their support for the Palestinians, and some hurled abuse at a counter-demonstrator holding up an Israeli flag.

ANSWER, a coalition of mostly leftist groups that was a key organizer of the massive demonstrations held in the run-up to the war, estimated Saturday's turnout at 25,000.

The marchers passed by the headquarters of Halliburton, Bechtel and other corporations set to snap up lucrative postwar reconstruction contracts in Iraq, as well as the offices of news groups such as Fox News and The Washington Post that have been criticized for their coverage of the war.

Protester Stan Green, of Clarion, Pennsylvania, said: "The American news media have been totally co-opted in support of the war."

Another marcher, 73-year-old Lonnie Picknes from New Jersey, said: "I am here to oppose corporate global domination and to stop the murder of innocent people. I support the troops but my desire is to bring them back home."

When the marchers reached the heavily defended White House they began chanting "impeach Bush!"

Activists also oppose the man picked to head an interim government in Iraq, retired three-star US general Jay Garner, 64, under fire for his links to the defense industry and strong support of Israel.

Nearby in front of the seat of the US Congress, a smaller demonstration in support of the US-led war saw hundreds of people chanting "USA, USA" and waving US flags at a "Rally for the Troops."

"This is a significant moment in American history and one that we can be proud of," said speaker Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine "It's not the end of the war on terror ... it's the end of the beginning."

In the crowd, 50-year-old NASA engineer Mike Bowen of Damas, Maryland, told AFP: "I love America. This is the best way to show that I support our troops."

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Iraq war doves in droves worldwide, hawks flock in North America

Canadian Press
Saturday, March 29, 2003

BERLIN (CP) - Anti-war demonstrators turned out in the hundreds of thousands from South Korea to Chile on Saturday, spattering streets with paint, jeering outside U.S. embassies and in one case forming a 50-kilometre human chain, while U.S. and Canadian cities saw smaller rallies supporting the invasion of Iraq.

Chanting: "America imperialist, No 1 terrorist!" tens of thousands of protesters in Indonesia marched on the U.S. Embassy on Sunday in what appeared to be the country's largest anti-war demonstration to date.

The protesters - many dressed in traditional Muslim attire and representing the country's largest Islamic groups - numbered about 100,000, witnesses said.

They chanted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great," and wore headbands reading: Peace, No War. One banner read: "Bush, Iraq is not your killing field."

The event was organized by the Indonesian Committee in Solidarity with Iraqi People.

The crowd gathered in front of the British Embassy in central Jakarta early Sunday and marched peacefully to the United Nations office before heading to the U.S. Embassy about one kilometres away. Flanked by more than 1,500 police officers, the protesters slowed traffic but otherwise caused no problems.

More than 100,000 people protested in strongly anti-war Germany on Saturday, half of them at a rally in Berlin, where banners in the crowd read: Stop America's Terror. About 30,000 people held hands along the 50 kilometres between the northwestern German cities Muenster and Osnabrueck - a route used by negotiators who brought the Thirty Years War to an end in 1648.

Hundreds of women, some carrying placards declaring: The United States and Britain are the Axis of Evil, protested in Sana, capital of Yemen. Elsewhere in the Arab world, 10,000 turned out at a rally organized by Egypt's governing party in Port Said, and in Jordan's capital Amman, more than 3,000 people demanded the kingdom's government expel U.S. troops.

In Stuttgart, Germany, about 6,000 protesters encircled the U.S. military's European Command, releasing blue balloons adorned with white doves as they joined hands to form a chain.

Farther north, police detained 100 demonstrators taking part in a sit-down protest outside the main gate of the Rhine-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, a key transit point for U.S. military traffic to the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

Protesters in Rome hung black mourning banners from the city's bridges. At Vicenza, in northeastern Italy, demonstrators threw red paint and flares at the walls of a U.S. military base where hundreds of paratroopers now in northern Iraq had been based.

In the Greek capital Athens, 15,000 people chanting: "We'll stop the war" marched to the U.S. Embassy. Protesters splashed red paint on the road outside the building and on the windows of a McDonald's restaurant.

In the United States, thousands of flag-waving war supporters packed the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg. Police said about 8,000 people showed up but organizers put the number at 12,000.

A rally in Cape Cod, Mass., supporting U.S. troops drew about 2,000 and in Miami, thousands of Cuban exiles and others marched to support the U.S. military and to oppose opening relations with Cuba.

In San Francisco, where two days of anti-war demonstrations led to about 2,200 arrests in the days after the war began, a few hundred people gathered Saturday near City Hall to show support for the troops.

In Boston, 15,000 nuns, veterans, students and other anti-war protesters collapsed on a city streets in a "die in" to show their opposition to the war. Hundreds also rallied in New York City and a South Central Los Angeles neighbourhood where Linda Bolton urged the U.S. government to look at problems closer to home.

"Leave those Iraqis alone and come over and take care of business here first," said Bolton, 48.

"Look right here how many people in South Central are dying every day. Clean up here first before you clean up someone else's home."

In Manhattan, where an estimated 125,000 to 250,000 people protested against the war last weekend, several hundred staged a Times Square anti-war rally, while throwing in a wide array of other causes - from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to abortion rights.

Dmitri Bronovitsky held a placard combining the Palestinian and Iraqi flags that read: One Tragedy.

Braving chilly wind and rain, 4,000 rallied on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to cheer on U.S. forces and boo Canada's decision to remain on the sidelines.

As a counterpoint to the pro-U.S. rally not far away, about 400 peace demonstrators peacefully marched through the downtown streets to the U.S. Embassy.

At least two rallies on the Prairies also supported U.S. efforts in Iraq. About 200 demonstrators, many carrying U.S. flags and signs critical of Chretien, gathered in front of the Manitoba legislature.

A few anti-war protesters showed up which triggered a brief shouting match.

It was a larger crowd in the central Alberta city of Red Deer where more than 600 people rallied outside City Hall. The demonstators also carried U.S. flags and placards with slogans such as Peace Is For Pussies and We Love Our American Cousins.

In Halifax, about 1,000 marched to call for peace.

Barbed-wire roadblocks and riot police kept thousands of Bangladeshi protesters away from the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka. The demonstrators burned a U.S. flag and an effigy of President George W. Bush.

Police in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, used tear gas to break up a protest outside the Australian Embassy, whose country has about 2,000 soldiers in the coalition.

Students in South Korea's capital Seoul scuffled with riot police as thousands marched down half of an eight-lane boulevard chanting: "Stop the bombing! Stop the killing!"

The mood was more subdued in Britain, where public sentiment had been strongly against the government's participation in the U.S.-led coalition before the outbreak of fighting but appears to be swinging. A MORI poll released Friday put Prime Minister Tony Blair's popularity rating at its highest level in nine months.

Turnout at a series of British rallies was a tiny fraction of protests before the war. Still, activists said they will keep marching to demand Blair pull British troops out of Iraq.

"We didn't stop the war starting but we can still stop its progress. I think this is going to become the next Vietnam," said Rebecca Mordan, 26, an actress who took part in a rally of about 100 people in London.

Poland, which committed up to 200 soldiers to the war, saw its largest demonstration yet. Two thousand mostly young people marched to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, banging drums and chanting: "No blood for oil." They called President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Leszek Miller "Bush's two dogs."

In Hungary, another country whose government has supported the war, about 2,000 people whistled and jeered as they marched past the U.S. and British embassies in Budapest on their way to parliament.

A crowd estimated at 6,000 people demonstrated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

More than 10,000 people marched in Paris, watched by 5,000 police. The demonstration turned violent when about 20 youths attacked a couple angry about protesters carrying posters of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Both were treated for bruises by rescue workers.

Around 8,000 people marched in Dublin to criticize the Irish government's decision to let U.S. forces bound for Iraq use the country's Shannon Airport for refuelling and stopovers.

In Santiago, Chile, more than 3,000 people staged a peaceful march and in Caracas, Venezuela, about 100 people called for an end to the war.

Venezuelan anti-Iraq War protestor uninjured in California air base crash

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2003
By: David Coleman

26-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen Eid Elwirelwir has been arrested uninjured after smashing his car through a wire barrier at the USAF Base in March, Riverside County ... 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

Police say Muslim Elwirelwir made anti-American statements as they charged him with damaging US government property. Marine Corps sentries had had to jump for their lives as the Venezuelan gunned his car through the wire barrier ending up enmeshed in a chain-link fence.

In a statement, FBI officials say Elwirelwir had "expressed numerous anti-American sentiments and said he believed he had been oppressed by the United States because he is Muslim."

A joint FBI terrorism task force raided Elwirelwir's home after the arrest and he remains in Federal custody pending a further court appearance.

International protests against Iraq war continue over weekend

By Joseph Kay
31 March 2003

The enormous opposition to the war against Iraq was evident again this weekend, as protests were held in numerous cities in the United States and internationally.

In Boston, Massachusetts, protestors on Saturday held the largest demonstration in that city since the Vietnam War. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people gathered, including many students as well as workers, farmers, elderly people and children. The crowd marched through one of Boston’s main shopping areas. Several thousand protesters participated in a “die-in,” lying down on Boylston Street to represent those being killed in the war.

Rana Abdul Aziz, a student at Tufts University, spoke at the rally. “I am the Iraqi whose vice has been denied,” she said. “It was only in their houses that Iraqis could find peace,” she continued, referring to the dictatorial policies of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and “now those refuges too have been violated” by American bombardment.

According to a report by Matthew Williams posted on Chicago Indymedia, many of those participating sought to draw a connection between the war and the increasing attack on social services and jobs in the United States. Chants during the course of the march included the demands, “Make jobs, not war” and “Money for jobs and education, not war and occupation.” Signs included, “Why not bomb Texas? They have oil too” and “Bush is killing our country.”

Phyllis Freeman, a professor of public health at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, said, “Even if the president isn’t listening, we want people in other counties to know we don’t agree with what our president is doing.” Another protestor, 67-year-old Mary Delavalette, said, “I’m ashamed to be an American. This is an illegal, immoral war. It’s for evil, for empire.”

Eric Weltman, one of the protest organizers, said the die-in was a protest directed not only at the American-led war against Iraq. “We’re working now to stop the next invasion. We’ve invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Who’s next? Iran? North Korea? Columbia?”

Thousands of people also participated in marches and rallies in other American cities, including New York and Patterson, New Jersey. Over 1,000 gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square to demand an end to war. One speaker also drew connections to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people, and a moment of silence was held in remembrance of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year old American student murdered by Israeli forces on March 16 in southern Gaza.

The protestors in the US were joined by hundreds of thousands in other countries. In Germany, protests were held in Berlin and other cities, with over 100,000 participants. In Stuttgart and Frankfurt, hundreds gathered outside American military bases and the US military’s European Command, calling attention to the fact that the German government is cooperating with the war by allowing its airspace to be used by the US-British coalition troops.

Elsewhere in Europe, thousands gathered in Italy and Greece. In Rome, which has been home to massive protests over the course of the past several months, demonstrators hung black banners on bridges in several locations. One demonstrator said that the banners symbolized both the deaths being inflicted on the Iraqi people and oil, “which is the real reason for the war.”

In Spain, demonstrators picketed American military bases, and in Morocco thousands of marchers chanted, “We are all Iraqis,” as they walked through the city of Rabat.

Poland’s largest demonstration against the war also took place over the weekend, with 2,000 denouncing the war for oil supported by the Polish government. A similar number gathered in Budapest, Hungary, while an estimated 6,000 took part in protests in Moscow. Ten thousand marched in Paris and 8,000 in Dublin, Ireland. All these numbers are official estimates, which are generally substantially lower than the actual figures.

Protestors also gathered throughout the Middle East, including estimates of 10,000 in Egypt, 3,000 in Jordan and several hundred woman protestors in Yemen. In South America, thousands gathered in Venezuela and Chile.

In Asia, protestors faced down riot police outside the US embassy in Bangladesh. Police used tear gas against thousands protesting outside the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Howard government of Australia has fallen behind the Americans in supporting the war. Thousands of students marched in Seoul, South Korea and chanted, “Stop the bombing! Stop the killing!”

The Stalinist bureaucracy in China allowed a small protest at Beijijng University, undoubtedly a response to the enormous opposition in that country to the war. While any manifestation of popular discontent is generally suppressed, a few dozen students were allowed to demonstrate at the country’s premier university.

Some of the most significant protests were held on Sunday, particularly in Asia. In Jakarta, Indonesia, official estimates quoted 200,000 demonstrators, though organizers put the figure in the millions. These included both Muslims and Christians. Over 100,000 took part in demonstrations in Pakistan.

See Also:
International protests continue against US war in Iraq
[27 March 2003]

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