PARIS, - Thousands of protesters marched through Paris Sunday, May 26, slamming
U.S. foreign, military and environmental policy, as President George W. Bush
arrived in the French capital on his first official visit.
Police put protester numbers at over 4,000, while riot-equipped officers said
they were ready for up to 15,000 demonstrators, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Peace activists and environmentalists mingled with Palestinian sympathizers and
those demanding the lifting of sanctions against Iraq in a march that passed
off peacefully, with police keeping their distance.
At the head of the march was a group calling itself "Americans against Bush,"
lambasting Bush's policies. "He's betrayed everything that represents what were
the few good parts of our country," one of the group members told AFP.
"Since September 11, he's turned the country into a constitutional crisis.
We're not afraid to speak up like those in America who are silent, who are in a
constitutional coma," he added.
"We're concerned for our country... take Cuba, the missile programmed," said
another, criticizing the U.S. president for encroaching on civil liberties.
"This president wasn't elected, he was selected," he added.
Protest groups included revolutionary communists, anti-capitalists, anti-
imperialists, human rights activists, and those demanding an end to the death
penalty. Their numbers swelled by pro-Iraqi and Palestinian groups.
Some chanted "Down with the U.S.," while others held a banner reading: "We want
justice, stop the war."
Most demonstrators focused their rage at U.S. foreign policy, particularly in
the Middle East, holding banners depicting Bush on a Wild West-style poster
saying "Wanted: This man is dangerous."
Marchers chanted "We're all Palestinians" while others wearing headscarves
shouted "Bush, Sharon, assassins."
With attention focused on possible U.S. military action against Baghdad, one
Iraqi protester said Bush was already at war with Iraq, while another
insisted: "We are ready for anything."
"U.S. military action in Iraq would be a catastrophe for U.S. policy; it would
kick off a war everywhere," he warned.
A banner mounted on a statue depicting the French republic in the city's Place
de la Republique read: "Iraq: the only legal solution is dropping sanctions."
Two protesters visiting from the United States said: "Lots of Americans are
against Bush, but it's difficult to speak out at the present