Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2088

‘On this day the world changed’

This article is over 13 years, 11 months old
Voices from participants in the demonstrations on 15 February 2003
Issue 2088

‘I went to the demonstration with a group of people from work. We went on the “peace train” – a specially chartered train to the demo. The atmosphere was fantastic. People at work still talk about what an inspirational day it was.

We were inspired by the school students who walked out during the war. Lots of council workers got involved in demonstrations and protests when the war started and many have marched since in Manchester and London.’

Mike Killian is a council worker

‘The 15 February demonstration really said something about the country – a new generation was standing up to the government.

As a Muslim woman who wears the headscarf and is in a wheelchair I am meant to be the epitome of the oppressed. But the movement gave people confidence, including me.

People sometimes say the protests didn’t make a difference because they didn’t stop the war. But the Stop the War Coalition created a voice for people. If it didn’t exist I believe there would be many “silent victims” of Islamophobia.’

Muserat Sujawal is co-chair of Leeds Stop the War Coalition

‘I was in my second year at Shawlands Academy, Glasgow, in 2003. Fifteen of us decided to walk out of school the day the war broke out.

We painted peace signs on our faces with eyeliner and went up to the teachers to tell them we were going on strike.

The teachers did not try and stop us. We marched up to George Square to join other anti-war protesters.’

Leila Assaf was a student in Glasgow

‘Being part of the biggest demonstration ever to take place in Britain made me feel like part of history. It was overwhelming to see so many people determined to make themselves heard.

I know lots of others from my garage who went on the demo. People were talking about it. They knew I was going and made a point of telling me they’d been on the demo too.

On 15 March I’ll be demonstrating again. It’s good that Stop the War is keeping people on the street and that we are still showing the government that we oppose what it’s doing.’

Amanda is a bus worker from London

‘When we marched through Beirut we felt the world had changed. This was the day when you took sides – either you were with the bombs or you stood out against imperialism.

After years of silence the left in Lebanon was able to organise itself and to draw in ordinary people. We felt our little march was part of a global movement that was destroying the barriers between east and west.’

Bassem Chit is an activist in Lebanon

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