Will you be wearing a poppy?

It has been suggested that opponents of the war in Iraq should boycott the Remembrance poppy. Is there any force in this argument? Arifa Akbar asked selected members of the anti-war generation
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The Independent Online

Samantha Roberts

Samantha Roberts

Widow of first British soldier killed in Iraq

I participated in a Radio Five Live discussion with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the subject on Tuesday. She said she could not wear a poppy because of what is going on in Fallujah. Well, I would contend that is more of a reason to wear it. It's not a symbol of war - but a symbol of how wrong war is. It is not a political symbol either. It is a reminder of the civilian deaths. It is also a reminder of those who have died in peace-time, those involved in peace-keeping missions for example. I am proud to wear the poppy and proud of the work Steve did. He was a brilliant soldier.

Anthony Beevor

Historian and author

I have always worn a poppy because it is very much a symbol of those who died in the two world wars and has nothing to do with operations in the world today. To turn the poppy into a political statement is simply grotesque. Remembrance Day has nothing particularly to do with stopping war and everything to do with remembering the horror of war and those who suffered.

Michael Morpurgo

Children's laureate

We should wear poppies as a witness to the suffering of war. There should be a determination that it doesn't happen again. I have huge admiration for those who go to war on our behalf. I happen to think it's a wrong war [in Iraq], but that doesn't change the fact that our troops have to face death, injury and mutilation.

The poppy reminds us of what happens when we stop talking and start killing each other.

Ten million people died in the First World War. The poppy is a warning.

Iqbal Sacranie

Muslim Council of Britain

I always wear a poppy during the appeal week and always attend the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Cenotaph. The poppy represents an opportunity to remember those who died innocently in all wars. In Islam, the Koran urges humankind to remember that we only have a finite span of time on this earth. For us, all human lives are equally precious. The poppy symbolises not just our own dead in Great Britain and the world over but now in Fallujah where Iraqi civilians are dying.

Glenda Jackson

Labour MP

The symbol of the poppy has not been sullied by the war in Iraq. The soldiers did not decide to go into the First or Second World Wars just as the soldiers did not decide to enter Iraq. That was a decision taken by politicians. The criticism of the First World War was that the troops were lions led by donkeys. Nothing seems to have changed, although the donkeys now seem to be the politicians. Tony Blair does not undermine what the poppy stands for when he wears it. He undermines his condolences to the people in places of real danger.

Alexei Sayle

Comedian and writer

If I remember, I do wear a poppy. I understand the reasons for not wanting to wear a poppy this year but it's not something I feel strongly about. On balance, it's a reasonable gesture and not particularly militaristic. I think it honours those who gave their lives and fought for their country. Not necessarily for the right reasons but they made a sacrifice. I also think it's a rather beautiful thing. The idea of reproducing poppies that bloomed on the First World War battlefields; I find that quite remarkable.

Tracey Emin

Artist

Remembrance Day for me is for those centenarians who fought in those wars. I think it's very sweet to wear poppies and I feel respect for those people who had no choice but to fight in the two world wars. It's a good thing to remember them. If I see some old boys selling poppies or collecting, I put money in their boxes.

Bob Geldof

Musician

I will be wearing a poppy because I think it is the right thing to do. It's a stupid point of view to say that it is in any way connected to the war in Iraq. I respect the men who fought in the two world wars.

Lindsey German

Convener, Stop the War Coalition

The poppy is the symbol of the millions of people who died in the First World War. People wear them because they don't want such wars to happen again.

Politicians such as Tony Blair, who will lay wreaths at the Cenotaph on Sunday, are taking us into new and dangerous and illegal wars and the poppy is being used by them for their own ends.

For this reason I would not wear a red poppy. I will be wearing a white poppy because it is the symbol of peace.

Rose Gentle

Mother of British soldier killed in Iraq

I wear a white poppy for peace because it reflects what should be happening now. There should be peace. The poppy is there to show that I respect the dead. But I don't support the war in Iraq. We just want to bring all the troops back home. My family is one of nearly 70 grieving for a lost son because of this war. I bought my poppy in Glasgow. A lot of people are wearing them there. It has a double meaning for respect and for peace.

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