Millions stop work as anti-war protests sweep Europe and beyond
By Stephen Graham
1:51 p.m., March 14, 2003
Associated Press Millions of Europeans stopped work at midday Friday to protest a
possible attack on Iraq, as opposition to U.S.-led military action rippled across the globe.
BERLIN – Millions of Europeans stopped work at midday Friday to protest a possible
attack on Iraq, as opposition to U.S.-led military action rippled across the globe.
Labor unions said millions of workers in countries including Spain, Germany, Italy,
Switzerland and Cyprus answered a continentwide call to strike for 15 minutes to press
In Germany, where polls show an overwhelming majority of people oppose a war, the
strikes briefly halted vehicle production at three Volkswagen factories and a
DaimlerChrysler plant. Trams ground to a halt in the eastern city of Halle.
Italian unions said workers put down tools from Sicily in the south to Turin in the north.
Activists hung a six-yard rainbow peace flag from a bridge in Pisa, while workers in
numerous factories sounded horns to mark the strike.
While German, French and Russian leaders are spearheading resistance to a military
assault, backers of Washington's hard line like Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
and Australian Prime Minister John Howard are defying hostile public opinion.
"Not acting to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction is neither politically nor
morally acceptable," Aznar told a meeting of his Popular Party shortly after the workers'
On the other side of the globe, Howard was hounded by anti-war protesters in the
Australian city of Adelaide. Demonstrators hurled eggs and tomatoes at Howard's car and
brought traffic to a standstill. One protester was taken into police custody for lunging at
Howard's car but was not charged.
In Turkey, where the United States wants to deploy about 62,000 combat troops, two
dozen peace activists chained themselves to the wheels of a truck blocking an entrance to
the eastern port of Iskenderun, where U.S. forces are unloading equipment ahead of a
possible Iraq war.
Police dragged away the demonstrators while dozens of Turkish soldiers reinforced the
entrance to the port.
In Egypt, about 4,000 demonstrators gathered at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque, the highest
authority in the Sunni Islamic world, chanting anti-American slogans and calling on Arab
leaders to form a common front to avert a war.
The crowd was vastly outnumbered by riot police, who cordoned off the area to prevent
bystanders from joining the rally.
In Jordan, more than 3,000 Muslim protesters gathered in a courtyard in the city of Zarqa,
shouting slogans calling for jihad, or holy war, against American troops and "Death to
Bush and America."
The rally, which ended peacefully, was organized by the largest opposition party, the
Islamic Action Front – the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement – in
commemoration of Hamas leader Ibrahim Makadmeh. Makadmeh was killed last week by
Israeli forces in Gaza City.
More demonstrations were planned worldwide on Saturday.