The Tories are demanding that the government ban Ibrahim Mousawi, editor of the Hizbollah newspaper Al-Intiqad (Criticism), from speaking at the World Against War tour that will kick off with a rally in London on 28 February.
Mousawi has addressed many anti-war meetings in the past, including the successful World Against War conference in London on 1 December.
But Tory leader David Cameron described Mousawi as a “vicious antisemite”, an accusation he strongly rejects. In 2005 Mousawi invited Jewish religious leaders to a conference in Beirut and hosted them as guests on his talk show.
Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition told Socialist Worker, “Ibrahim Mousawi speaks eloquently for links between all communities and peoples who oppose George Bush’s ‘war on terror’. Everyone who wants to know the real story of the ‘war on terror’ should come and hear him.”
Meanwhile, campaigners are reporting growing interest in the 15 March Stop the War demonstration in London.
Charlie Dowthwaite, an anti-war activist in Barrow, told Socialist Worker, “The war is still an important issue after five years. We are getting in touch with a network of people who have been on protests in the past. We are also advertising our transport through the local paper.”
In Norwich, activists have produced thousands of leaflets to publicise their transport to the demo.
Julie Bremner from Norwich told Socialist Worker, “I am very optimistic that we can get a lot of people to the demonstration. People know that it will be an international day of action and they want to be part of it.
“A member of Stop the War who is a lecturer organised a debate about US and British foreign policy at the university. It was great even though there wasn’t much of a debate – people were against the ‘war on terror’.”
Mark Krantz, convenor of Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition, told Socialist Worker that interest in the demonstration has really taken off in the last week.
“We have been invited in to one of the mosques in south Manchester to talk to people at Friday prayers,” he said.
“On Friday and Saturday this week we are holding peace processions with mock coffins draped in flags to commemorate all those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are also
looking forward to the World Against War tour coming to Manchester.
“Adding the demand to end the siege of Gaza to the demo’s aims has widened the appeal of the protest.”
Students are also busy building for the demonstration. At many universities and colleges new Stop the War groups have been set up this year and at others students report a renewed and growing interest in the anti-war movement.
Hanif Leylabi, a student at Leeds University, told Socialist Worker that their group has grown as lots of new students are getting involved in Stop the War activity.
He said, “We have been collecting names to support a referendum on affiliating the student union to the Stop the War Coalition. We had students queuing up to sign when they heard the petition was about the war.”
Hanif added that a student council meeting on Monday had passed motions for the National Union of Students conference calling for bans on military recruitment on campuses and opposing any attack on Iran.
“There is a strong anti-war feeling – contrary to all the lies about students and young people being apathetic,” he said.
In Scotland activists are building for a demonstration in Glasgow to coincide with the London protest and action around the world.
The Scottish TUC (STUC), Scottish CND and the Muslim Association of Britain have backed the demonstration.
STUC assistant secretary Mary Senior told Socialist Worker, “As the fifth anniversary approaches of the illegal invasion of Iraq, the STUC will join all of those making a stand against British troops’ continued presence in Iraq.”
Over 50 people attended an activists’ meeting in Glasgow last weekend to organise building the protest.
Those attending included representatives from the Unison, UCU, EIS, Unite (T&G) and FBU unions, Scottish NUS, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, and mosques in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Military Families Against the War was represented by Rose Gentle and Scottish CND and Amnesty International members were also present.
Campaigners drew up a plan of action to ensure that publicity for the march would be distributed all over Scotland, with weekly Saturday stalls and fundraising events planned in all cities.
For more on the demos and transport details, go to » www.stopwar.org.uk or phone 020 7278 6694