Sunday, January 11, 2009

London - Paris - Oslo - Berlin - We shall fight we shall win !

A London protest against the Israeli military campaign in Gaza turned violent Saturday night as police charged demonstrators outside the gates of Israel's embassy.

It was one of the largest of many, many demonstrations across Europe on Saturday. Protests in Paris, France also turned violent.

One police officer was knocked unconscious and two were injured in the fray, according to The London Paper. An estimated 300 police in riot gear charged protesters as the crowd chanted "free, free Palestine," hurling hundreds of shoes over a police barrier in front of the embassy.

Tensions continued to rise as the crowd found more objects to hurl -- signs, eggs, red paint, barriers, rocks, etc. -- until police began efforts to disperse the demonstrators.

Protesters smashed and destroyed a Starbucks, and the Daily Mail reported that others tried to set police vehicles on fire.

London police told BBC that just 20,000 people were involved in the protest, but BBC estimated 50,000. The London Paper gave a figure twice that, claiming over 100,000 joined the demonstration.

"We want the British government to take a much stronger position," said Lindsey German, an organizer with protest group 'Stop the War,' in a BBC report. "There would have been outrage from governments around the world if this had happened anywhere else - the condemnation has been at best half-hearted."

"The British government and European Union have the economic leverage to stop this carnage," said Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, in a prepared statement. "They must take decisive action to force Israel to end the slaughter."

Protests ripple across Europe

About 30,000 people marched through Paris, the interior ministry said, and more than 90,000 joined protests in more than 120 towns and cities elsewhere in France.

In the capital, thousands of French men and women of Arab origin carrying Palestinian banners joined forces with left-wing militants amid cries of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) and "Israel murderer."

Protesters smashed a bus shelter and a telephone box in central Paris, and bottles were later thrown at riot police and shop windows smashed.

Police fired teargas after mobs overturned motor scooters and set them on fire.

A march in the southern city of Nice descended into violence. Seven police were hurt and 11 rioters arrested as youths broke off from a 2,500-strong crowd of protesters and smashed shop windows.

Demonstrations took place on the streets of other European cities including Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Oslo, Sarajevo and Stockholm.

In Sarajevo, peace activist Svetlana Broz told a 1,000-strong pro-Palestinian demonstration that the city knew better than others "what happens when the world remains silent at a time when innocent civilians suffer", referring to the bloody siege of the city in the 1992-95 war in the former Yugoslavia.

Police in Oslo fired teargas after a small group among a crowd of 2,000 pelted them with stones, and up to 5,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm to call for an end to the military campaign.

More than 6,000 people gathered for a peaceful rally in Berlin, with similar shows of support for the Palestinians in Munich and Cologne.

In western Germany, some 10,000 people, largely from the ethnic Turkish community, protested in Duisburg. Police briefly intervened when demonstrators threw snowballs at a window bearing two Israeli flags.

Innsbruck in western Austria staged a peaceful protest of 3,500 people waving banners saying "Stop Israeli terror" and 7,000 protesters turned out in Bern, Switzerland.

In Athens, more than 2,000 people took part in a protest staged by left-wing groups and thousands demonstrated in Milan and Turin.

SOURCE: Press Reports

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