Two Die in Yemen After Anti-War Protest Turns Violent
Amid chants of “Death to America!” during a second day of anti-war protests in Yemen, two people were shot dead and several others injured when police and activists clashed when an angry crowd of some 3,000 of the estimated 30,000 protestors attempted to storm the U.S. embassy.
The dead included a protestor and a policeman who perished during a gunfight according to initial reports. Dozens of soldiers in armored vehicles were called in to contain the demonstration.
The government of Yemen has been one of the most outspoken in opposing the war and has seen some of the most volatile citizen demonstrations against it.
Protestors took to the streets in other Arab capitals after Muslim Friday prayers, leading authorities to call in riot police in Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, among others.
In Cairo, at least 5,000 Egyptians protested against the war outside the city’s historic al-Azhar mosque, leading riot police to use water canons and attack dogs to keep protestors under control.
“Bush is the enemy of God,” shouted some of the demonstrators according to Reuters, while others chanted: “With our souls and our blood, we will defend Iraq.”
Many European cities have also been the scene of large anti-war protests including those in Italy, France and Germany. In the Greek capital of Athens, thousands of anti-war demonstrators clashed with police as they rallied outside of the U.S. embassy there.
In Germany, police broke up a sit-down protest outside of the U.S. military’s European Command center in Stuttgart. School children also placed candles on the road leading to the U.S. embassy that has, like other U.S. missions around the world, been operating under tightened security.
In London, where nearly one million protestors turned out in mid-February to protest Britain’s high profile role in the military conflict with Iraq, anti-war movement organizers expected a diminished turn out for a planned rally this weekend.
London police said they expected some 100,000 people to march in this weekend’s protest although authorities fear that the rally could turn violent.
“It will not be a big demonstration because there is a substantial air of fatalism,” Andrew Burgin of the Stop the War coalition told Reuters.
Protests were also reported throughout Asia including Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia and India, among others.
Thousands of Muslims in eastern Malaysia burned British and U.S. flags and puppet representations of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Chanting “Destroy Bush,” and “Long Live Islam,” over 5,000 protesters filled the streets as police stood by, witnesses told The Associated Press.
In Tokyo, 11,000 Japanese were reported to be marching for peace hours after President Bush called Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to thank him for joining Washington’s “coalition of the willing.” Japan has pledged post-conflict aid to help rebuild Iraq and assist refugees.
“When I thought of the children in Iraq, I felt like I had to come,” protestor Fumiko Nakajima told the Associated Press. “If our government can’t stand up to the United States, then we citizens have to.”
In Melbourne, Austraila, some 5,000 protestors marched to the sound of simulated air raid sirens. Australia has backed the U.S. effort and committed a sizeable military force to the war in Iraq.
In the U.S., anti-war protestors threatened to shut down the streets of San Francisco for a second day, as activists spilled into the streets of the city’s downtown financial district early Friday morning.
San Francisco police arrested some 1,300 people on Thursday as masses of protestors blocked streets and snarled traffic. Similar street blocks by protestors have been reported across the country.
In Washington, D.C., activists temporarily shut down a bridge leading into the city, holding up the morning commute. Outside the White House, about 50 shouted, “No blood for oil!”