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Rebuilding Iraq

Prayers for peace, criticism of Bush at interfaith rally

By Peter DeMarco, Globe Correspondent, 3/22/2003

    Rebuilding Iraq


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Speeches, reports, documents

The protesters who gathered on City Hall Plaza for the city's first interfaith antiwar march yesterday joined hands and prayed aloud to Jehovah, to Allah, to Jesus, and to Buddha for peace in Iraq. Then, in unison, they condemned the man they say is the real ultimate power behind the war: George W. Bush.

"God has nothing to do with this. This is a human being's ego," said the Rev. Filipe Teixeira, pastor of Saint Martin De Porres Church of Brockton.

"This war President Bush is carrying on is a false war," said the Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts. "He's projected all the evil in our society onto someone else."

Led by four Buddhist monks, nearly 200 protesters chanted songs, banged drums, and stuck daffodils in their hair as they walked from Cambridge to Copley Square, past the State House, and down to Government Center.

The protest was the culmination of a peace march that started more than a month ago in Western Massachusetts. About 250 people, from eight to 10 per day, participated in the Wake Up Peace! march, which wound its way across the state, from Leverett, to Springfield, to Pittsfield, then back east through the Merrimack Valley, the North and South shores, and on to Boston.

"It's more important than ever that we continue to walk and pray and raise our voices against this war," said Sister Clare Carter of the Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Leverett, where the march started on Feb. 16. "If we give in to war, there really is no hope."

A group of veterans had threatened to shout down the marchers, but the only resistance they encountered was 13-year-old David Gurevich of Newton, who walked among them holding an American flag and a poster saying he backed the war effort.

At Government Center, the protesters formed a circle as religious leaders, City Councilor Chuck Turner, and Ramona Peters of the Wampanoag tribe spoke passionately for peace.

Charley Richardson and Nancy Lessin of Jamaica Plain told the group that they wanted their son, Joe Richardson, a Marine in the Persian Gulf, to come home. Local folk singer Kristina Olsen sang about her sister, Laurie Neira, who died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

As US bombs rained down on Baghdad thousands of miles away, Rabbi Sheila Weinberg of the Jewish Community of Amherst urged the protesters not to give up.

"Our most ancient book of psalms teaches us to seek peace and pursue it. We must pursue it as it is running away from us," she said.

Though smaller than Thursday's march, when 4,000 people turned out, yesterday's Interfaith Spring Walk for Peace was just one of many scheduled this week.

The antiwar group United for Justice With Peace has demonstrations planned today in Arlington Center from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Medford Square and Davis Square from 10 a.m. to noon.

Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, or ANSWER, and the Boston Committee for Peace and Human Rights are cosponsoring a rally at 12:30 p.m. at the Park Street MBTA station. ANSWER and the Women's Fightback Network are also sponsoring anti-war speeches at the Cambridge YMCA at 6:30 p.m.

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