Demonstrations mark anniversary of war on Iraq

 Many thousands of peace campaigners took to the streets in cities around the world to mark the anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq on Saturday. Police said around 25,000 people joined London's march to Trafalgar Square on Saturday. Organisers said that three times that amount of protesters took part. There were representatives from many Justice and Peace groups, Pax Christi and Christian CND. Thousands of balloons were released in memory of those killed in the Iraq conflict, as well as the Madrid bomb attack victims. Fr Guiseppe Cisco, Superior of the Saverians in Spain, who took part in a demonstration in Madrid wrote the following personal reflection which has been issued by the Missionary News Service: "Under the pouring rain, large numbers of people from all over are converging on Colon Square in Madrid. A mute crowd, which breaks its silence only with the occasional cry of 'We were all on that train!' Placards bearing slogans demand peace, the truth about what happened, justice. A crowd displaying the best of human nature: solidarity, the desire for peace and common living. We are walking next to a group of Muslim women, wearing headscarves. They are not afraid of mixing with the crowd to express their solidarity. The whole of Madrid is out there, despite the incessant rain: children on their fathers' shoulders, elderly people walking with difficulty, numerous young people, coloured people, Spanish and foreign. There was a huge turn-out: over two million in Madrid; over 11 million throughout Spain. Demonstrations are not just about emotion and shallow sentiment. The slogans express deep-seated feelings and motivations, the product of reflection and life-style, of people who ask questions of themselves and who question the choices made. They are expressions of the desire for peace, of solidarity: we were all on that train, and we were all thrust out by the force of the horrendous explosions: we have all been wounded and maimed; we are all suffering as a result of what happened. I feel immersed in the people of slavery and of exile. The words of Exodus come to mind, when God says to Moses: "I have seen the affliction of my people and have heard their cry; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them Come, I will send you; now go and tell them' What is our mission, as individuals and as nations, at the start of the third millennium? To build peace and co-habitation in our world. We cannot sow death. We do not want to surrender in the face of those who sow death. God is the creator and defender of life, and so are we. The Spanish people have once again demonstrated their profound human dignity, in the face of this terrible tragedy. The best answer lies in the doctors who rushed to the scene, the fire fighters, the people who supplied blankets to cover the dead, the taxi drivers who transported the families free of charge, and the many, many people in the city streets. That ocean of faces looking ahead, under the rain, and crying in unison: 'We were all on that train!' There is a graffiti reading: 'It is not raining, it is Madrid that is crying'. We were also on that train; we also cried. May the train that carries the life-loving pilgrims set off once again."

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