Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-2.mcbone.net (126.96.36.199) on Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 1:55PM :
"Today we're all Iraqis," said an editorial in the Swedish tabloid Expressen
In the Nordics, thousands protest U.S. attacks on Iraq
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Mar 20, 2003 (AP WorldStream via COMTEX) -- Nordic countries criticized U.S. strikes on Iraq Thursday as thousands of students, workers and politicans took to the streets in protest.
Police in Denmark said they detained 58 protesters who entered a navy compound to protest the country's participation in the war.
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators held two rallies Stockholm, while political leaders and newspapers condemned the U.S. attack.
"Today we're all Iraqis," said an editorial in the Swedish tabloid Expressen.
In Helsinki, Finland, police said 3,000 demonstrators made their way from the city center to a park near several embassies, including those of Britain and the United States.
In neighboring Norway, 4,000 protested in front of the Storting, carrying signs and chanting slogans.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the only Nordic leader to support the attacks, said "sometimes war is necessary to secure freedom and peace."
Denmark's Parliament is expected to approve sending a submarine and naval escort for combat use in the Persian Gulf on Friday.
Fifty-eight activists protesting Denmark's role in the war climbed on the roof of a navy compound in Copenhagen, but came down peacefully after police arrived.
They were charged with trespassing and released, police said.
Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson said the attack was not justified because it lacked U.N. backing.
"It could turn out that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction," Persson told lawmakers in the 349-seat Riksdag. "But none of that justifies that the United States and its allies attack on their own."
Demonstrators braved freezing temperatures to march to the U.S. Embassy chanting anti-war slogans after nightfall in Stockholm.
"I don't think Saddam is going to become any nicer because Iraqi children are bombed," said Olle Nyman, 15.
Earlier in the day more than 6,000 students gathered in downtown Stockholm for a youth peace rally. One person in the tightly packed crowd set an American flag ablaze.
In Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, police increased security at embassies, but played down the risk of terror attacks.
Churches and mosques in the region stayed open longer.
"A lot of people are calling us," said Mehmet Kaplan, a spokesman for Swedish Young Muslims. "They no longer trust the world order, or that there is justice."
He said Iraqi immigrants in Sweden would be happy to see Saddam removed from power, but not by military force.
In Norway, a "service of mourning" was planned for Saturday in Oslo Cathedral.
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said, "War is always evil. We can only hope it will be short."
He added that Norway, a NATO member, opposed the war because it was "not based on a decision in the Security Council."
In Finland, border guards stepped up scrutiny of passports.
"What we are really preparing for is ... an increase in asylum seekers from that region," said Lt. Col. Esa Asikainen from the Finnish Frontier Guard.
Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden also agreed to provide millions of U.S. dollars in humanitarian aid for Iraq.
In the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, reaction to the attacks was muted. No protests were held, but embassies added additional guards. The three countries are part of the coalition of the willing with the United States.
Associated Press writers Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki, Finland, William Stoichevski in Oslo, Norway, and Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.
By KARL RITTER Associated Press Writer
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