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World protests mark third anniversary of war in Iraq

Organizers hoped for bigger turnout

NEW YORK -- Thousands of antiwar protesters took to the streets around the world yesterday, marking the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq with demands that coalition troops leave immediately.

Waleed Bader of the Arab Muslim American Federation addressed a crowd in Times Square from a flatbed truck parked near a recruiting station, which was guarded by police.

''We say enough hypocrisy, enough lies, our soldiers must come home now,'' Bader said. Participants chanted, ''Stop the US war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines.''

In Concord, N.H, nearly 300 peace activists marched about a mile from a National Guard Armory to the State House.

''I feel a huge sense of betrayal that I went and risked my life for a lie,'' said Joseph Turcott, 26, a former Marine who served in the invasion.

Other participants showed up at the rally to support US troops.

''I have friends in Iraq and I just want them to know that I may not be able to support them there, but I can here,'' said Jose Avila, 36.

Protests were also held in Australia, Asia, and Europe, but many events were far smaller than organizers had hoped.

In London, police said about 15,000 people joined a march from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Planners had expected 100,000.

Protesters in several cities carried posters showing pictures of President Bush, calling him the ''world's No. 1 terrorist.'' In London, other posters pictured British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying ''Blair must go!''

''We are against this war, both for religious reasons and on a humanitarian basis, too,'' said Imran Saghir, 25, a Muslim student who attended the London rally.

Britain, the United States' strongest supporter in the Iraq war, has about 8,000 troops in Iraq but plans to pull out 800 of them by May.

The British military has reported 103 deaths there.

In Stockholm, about 1,000 demonstrators gathered for a rally and march to the US Embassy. One protester was dressed as the hooded figure shown in an iconic photograph from the Abu Ghraib prison.

''We do not need Abu Ghraib democracy, or Guantanamo Bay freedom,'' said Eftikar Hashem Alhusainy, addressing the rally.

In Copenhagen, more than 2,000 demonstrators marched from the US Embassy to the British Embassy, demanding that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen withdraw the 530 Danish troops from southern Iraq.

In Turkey, where opposition to the war is nearly universal and cuts across all political stripes, about 3,000 protesters gathered in Istanbul, police said.

''Murderer USA,'' read a sign unfurled by a communist in Taksim Square in Istanbul. ''USA, go home!'' said red-and-black signs carried in Kadikoy on the city's Asian coast.

In Italy, Romano Prodi, the center-left leader who is challenging conservative Premier Silvio Berlusconi in next month's election, said he and his supporters wouldn't join a march in Rome because of a risk of violence.

In Greece, about 600 demonstrators marched through central Athens to the US Embassy, where protesters chanted: ''Stop the war now'' and ''American killers get out of Iraq.''

In Austria, protesters marching through Vienna -- about 200 by police estimates -- chanted ''Freedom, freedom for Iraq and Palestine,'' as they made their way to the US Embassy.

Today, up to as many as 3,000 protesters were are expected in Seoul, which has the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq after the United States and Britain.

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