Peace Groups Target Bush Visit To UK
by Shaista Aziz, Aljazeera.net
Antiwar activists are claiming a first round victory over attempts to stop President Bush’s first state visit to the UK.
They have wrecked his chances of getting all the VIP treatment which goes along with a state visit to the sovereign state.
President Bush, visiting London in November for three days, was looking forward to meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
This was to have entailed a grand procession along the Mall with all the pomp and ceremony of a state visit, but it has been cancelled over fears that antiwar campaigners would stage a colourful and angry protest to overshadow the event.
The President was also due to address the British Parliament on his three day visit. However, that too has been cancelled.
Peace activists claim that has been dropped over concerns that anti war MPs would boycott the session, causing embarrassment to Tony Blair.
Bush aides expected that the US president would get the same VIP treatment extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his four-day state visit in June. However, that looks extremely unlikely now, from a security point of view.
Downing Street told Aljazeera.net that they were unable to confirm ‘speculation’ over plans for Bush’s state visit.
However, a Downing Street insider confirmed “things are not going according to plan” because of the hostility towards the Bush administration.
Jubilant antiwar campaigners have vowed to keep up the pressure and demand that the invitation for President Bush’s visit to London should be retracted.
John Rees, spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition told Aljazeera.net that protesters were determined to prevent the state visit.
”We have already achieved a fantastic victory by preventing Bush from addressing Parliament.
“We are outraged that this war monger has been invited to the UK and we will work hard at ensuring that the antiwar voices are heard”, he said.
Peace campaigners from across the UK are already holding meetings in advance of the visit, to organise demonstrations and actions.
Organisers hope that the national demonstration against the visit to London on 20 November will be as historic an occasion as February 2003, when two million people marched on the capital against plans to bomb Iraq and calling for justice for Palestine.
Among those who plan to be making their voices heard will be members of Britain’s two million strong Muslim community.
Anas Altikriti from the Muslim Association of Britain, a partner of Stop the War Coalition, told AlJazeera.net that Muslims would be in solidarity with fellow peace campaigners.
”We have made it very clear to the British government that if it is to go ahead with extending this invitation to President Bush we would be calling on Muslims to protest.
“The visit will be taking place during the month of Ramadan, and we will be calling on Muslims to stand up and speak up against Bush’s policies in Iraq, Palestine and Chechnya”, he added.
The White House Press office told Aljazeera.net that they could not comment on the President’s visit for security reasons. Details of his visit would be released nearer to the time of his travel, said a spokesman.
Bush visited London in July 2001 for three days, but was not given the “red carpet treatment” he was looking forward to this time round.
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