War in the Balkans: Demonstrations - Writer leads anti-Serbian protest through Paris

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The Independent Online
ALBANIA'S MOST famous writer, Ismael Kadare, led a demonstration of 1,200 Albanians resident in Paris and French sympathisers through the heart of the old intellectuals' quarter of St Germain des Pres to protest against Serbia.

"Serbia, murderers," they chanted, marching behind Albanian, French and American flags to protest about Serb atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

"What is happening is the shame of Europe and the shame of the world," Kadare said. "What is urgently needed is to put an end to the massacres and the deportations in Kosovo." Their placards and banners equated Serbia with Nazi Germany and called on the French President, Jacques Chirac, to "Save Kosovo". There was no violence in Paris, or in other countries where Albanians and sympathisers showed support for Nato strikes. In New York, several hundred Bosnians - victims of Serb ethnic cleaning in 1992 - held a rally to support Nato actions. The demonstrators prayed for the safety of US and Nato forces and waved Bosnian and Kosovo flags.

In Cairo, several hundred Egyptian students demonstrated inside the grounds of the university in support for Kosovo Albanians, shouting: "You criminal Serbs, the blood of Muslims will not be shed in vain." They waved banners and wooden cut-outs depicting abused Albanians.

But Iran, which strongly supported the Bosnian Muslims in their war with Serbia in 1992, distanced itself from the war.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attacked Nato yesterday for the air strikes, saying they had only exacerbated the plight of the Albanians in Kosovo.

"What is the result?" he asked. "Is any Muslim feeling any safer? Since the attacks began, Muslims have been dealt with more severely."