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[casi] Half a million ... or 200?

Dear List Members,

AFP have reported on Yasser Alaskary's march against 'terrorism' but put the
number of marchers in Baghdad at 200 rather than the half a million the IPO
claim in their press release (see below).

If the AFP report is accurate then this march is certainly *not* 'the
largest protest to have taken place in Iraq after the fall of Saddam
Hussein's regime in April' (indeed, AFP also reports that yesterday
'[h]undreds of angry Shiite Muslims protested in the Iraqi capital on
Tuesday over the death of a sheikh crushed under a US tank' - see

Of course if there actually *were* half a million marchers in Baghdad today
we'll no doubt soon see plenty of stories (with pictures) in the media on
both sides of the Atlantic, since it's certainly the 'right' story from the
perspective of the US and British governments.

Watch this space!

Best wishes,


Thousands take to Iraqi streets to protest "terrorism"
10th December 2003

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Thousands of Iraqis, some watched over by US Apache
helicopters, demonstrated in Baghdad and other cities to condemn "terrorism"
in their country.

More than 200 protesters from the Iraqi National Congress and other
political parties, women's groups and sheikhs in traditional dress gathered
near the National Theatre in Baghdad and marched to a central Baghdad hotel.

"This is the national campaign against terrorism and sabotage," said Abo
Thaer, 55, a member of the Iraqi Communist Party. His party members turned
out with giant red flags bearing the hammer and sickle.

Participants Wednesday said the rallies marked International Human Rights

A similar protest last Friday in the capital attracted about 1,000 Iraqis.

American-led occupying forces who toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in April
are battling daily attacks by insurgents whom they regularly brand

On Monday a suicide car bomber wounded 58 US soldiers at their base near the
northern capital of Mosul while in Baghdad a bomb killed three worshippers
at a Sunni mosque.

"Terrorism .... will delay the process of rebuilding," said Eklass Khudhir,
30, one of four women holding a banner from the Iraqi Women's Organization.

She said it was their first protest against terrorism.

Hussein al-Musaya, a former Iraqi exile who helped organize the rally, said
numerous political parties had come together to state their opposition to

"It's also a message of thanks to the coalition force for liberating Iraq
(news - web sites) from the dictator," said Musaya, an official with the
Liberal Republic Iraqi Party.

"We will not allow the fascists to come back," added Farook al-Shamari, 63.

"I don't belong to any party but I am against terrorism and fascism. We
lived under the aggression of fascism for 40 years," he said.

He said he lost his teaching job and was jailed for six months for refusing
to join the ruling Baath party in 1979, the year Saddam Hussein gained
control of the country.

Qutaiba Khalid, and his wife Taghreed Jasin, both 28, said they were
representing students as well as the Communist Party.

With a red neckerchief and purple-tinted sunglasses, Khalid said violence
"will endanger the lives of innocent people and it will delay the departure
of the occupying force."

American helicopters flew above the protesters and at least seven Iraqi
police cars were stationed nearby. Several US soldiers watched from a
discreet distance away.

More than 2,500 protesters marched in the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and
Karbala south of Baghdad. They asked for the transfer of security from the
coalition to Iraqis.

A banner carried by the demonstrators in Najaf read, "Killing children is
not resistance."

Another said: "Saddam Hussein and (Osama) bin Laden are two sides of the
same coin."

In the Sunni town of Ramadi west of Baghdad, a hotbed of anti-US sentiment,
about 100 people protested after a call by the local council.

They gathered under the protection of American troops while a
counter-demonstration of about 70 people carrying photos of the Koran and
Mecca threw stones at the Americans. Iraqi police dispersed them.

Other demonstrations also took place in Baqubah just north of Baghdad, and
at Suleimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan.

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Yasser
Sent: 10 December 2003 17:45
Subject: [casi] IPO Press Release: 1/2 MILLION MARCH IN BAGHDAD AGAINST

December 10, 2003

Baghdad:       Mr. Sabah Muhsin, Baghdad IPO Chairman: +1 914 360 5278

London:          Mr. Ahmed Shames, London IPO Chairman: + 44 (0) 798 018
Mr. Yasser Alaskary, Media Affairs Dir.:  + 44 (0) 773 638 9400

Around half a million Iraqis marched through the capital, Baghdad, to
protest against the terrorism that has killed countless Iraqis in the last 4

"The Iraqi people have spoken very clearly, there is no such thing as
'Iraqi-resistance', only terrorism by regime loyalists and external
fundamentalists," said Sabah Muhsin, Baghdad Chairman of the IPO. "It's a
painful insult to Iraqis to call these acts resistance."

The march is the largest protest to have taken place in Iraq after the fall
of Saddam Hussein's regime in April. During that time there has been a
steady increase in terrorist bombings that have not only targeted coalition
troops, but the UN, Red Cross and the Iraqi police.

Notes to journalist:

1.    The Iraqi Prospect Organisation (IPO) is a network of young Iraqi men
and women, primarily based in Baghdad, and works to promote democracy for

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