Europeans rally against war in Afghanistan

Thousands of people attended rallies in Berlin and Stuttgart on Saturday to protest Germany's role in the war in Afghanistan. A partner demonstration was held in Manchester, England.

Police said the rallies remained peaceful.

The gatherings were organized by a collective of some 250 peace groups in Germany under the slogan "Give peace a chance, troops out of Afghanistan."

"There's another strategy for peace in Afghanistan that doesn't involve a military, and that strategy needs to be employed," said Jens-Peter Steffen, who helped organize the Berlin rally.

About 3,300 German soldiers are serving in Afghanistan, most of them in the country's relatively calm north.

Steffen said 7,000 demonstrators attended the rally in Berlin and 5,000 in Stuttgart; Police estimated a total of 5,000 demonstrators at the two.

In Manchester, where Britain's governing Labour Party was holding its annual convention, thousands of people gathered outside a security cordon for a noisy protest against the country's role in the NATO mission.

Led by the Stop The War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the protest also included members of Military Families Against the War. Organizers said there were at least 5,000 people at the protest; police estimated the number at about 2,500.

"We are here to tell the government that we want a foreign policy based on peace, not war," said Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. "We want our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are appalled at the prospect of the further spread of war." [Source: International Herald Tribune, Berlin, 20Sep08]

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