From Lisbon to Ljubljana, San Francisco to Manhattan, protesters gather to stop the bombs

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The Independent Online

In a co-ordinated expression of anger, anti-war protesters are preparing to swarm through dozens of cities across the globe over the next few days.

In a co-ordinated expression of anger, anti-war protesters are preparing to swarm through dozens of cities across the globe over the next few days.

In Europe, Italian organisers predict one and a half million people will stream through the streets of Rome on Saturday. In November, more than 400,000 anti-war protesters attended a demonstration in Florence.

The protest in Rome will be led by victims of recent wars including a Palestinian, a Kurd, an Afghan woman, an Israeli and a member of an association of victims of 11 September. Synchronised marches will take place across the continent in cities including Lisbon, Dublin, Ljubljana and Istanbul. In Paris, the procession will be led by French veterans of the Gulf War, carrying coffins.

There will be protests across Spain on Saturday, and the march in Barcelona will be followed on Sunday by the departure of the first group of volunteers to Iraq to show solidarity with the Iraqi people – recalling the International Brigade, which fought alongside the republicans in the Spanish Civil War.

In the United States, some unwelcome intervention from the courts and sectarian in-fighting among left-wing organisers have partly soured plans for a massive weekend of action against the war in up to 300 cities. A major march and rally planned in the heart of Manhattan on Saturday has had to be modified after a federal judge upheld New York City's right to refuse to issue a marching permit because of security concerns. Instead, protesters will gather on First Avenue for a stationary rally.

"We are appalled by this attack on our basic First Amendment rights, and we are asking all of our supporters to protest vigorously against this attempt to stifle the growing opposition to Bush's war," the rally's organisers, United for Peace and Justice, said in a statement.

In San Francisco, where organisers are hoping for a repeat of last month's protest attended by up to 200,000 people, controversy is brewing over a decision to exclude Michael Lerner, an ultra-liberal rabbi, from the roster of speakers.

A fringe left-wing group called International Answer, which has done much of the organisational legwork for the march, is offended at attacks Rabbi Lerner has made against the group. The rabbi's supporters say Answer is being petty, exclusionary and borderline anti-Semitic.

Beyond Europe and the United States, demonstrations will take place in Tokyo, Bangkok, Cape Town, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and many other cities. Baghdad's protest will feature the first wave of human shields from London, who arrivedin Iraq on Tuesday.

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