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     Scottish CND      Magazine

SCOTTISH PROTESTS AGAINST THE BOMBING OF IRAQ

In Scotland there was widespread opposition to the bombing campaign mounted against Iraq. At midday on Wednesday 16th December, as it became clear that an attack was imminent, a vigil in George Square Glasgow was organised at a few hours notice. Thirty people turned up with placards and candles at 5 pm. At 10 pm that night the cruise missiles started landing across Iraq. On the second evening there were over 100 people at the vigil, and more again on the third night, when Tam Dalyell MP spoke.

Glasgow’s Islamic community called a rally on the Saturday and this was supported by other organisations and individuals - over 350 people took part. Edinburgh CND organised the handing in of letters of protest to the US Consulate. The Society of Friends, the Iona Community and others were involved. Keith Bovey, Scottish CND President, handed in a letter questioning the legality of the bombing campaign. There were also events in Stirling and Dundee.

Glasgow City Council opposed the bombing and a number of Councillors were vocal in their condemnation of it. Scottish CND helped to mobilise people to come to the vigils in Glasgow and highlighted the hypocrisy of the government’s position - keeping weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde.

Scottish MPs George Galloway, Tam Dalyell and Denis Canavan played a leading role in speaking out against the bombing. Other MPs were likely to have joined their stance in Westminster, but the issue was not taken to a vote.

The SNP also opposed the attack. Speaking at one of the vigils, SNP Councillor John Mason said “It is just like playground bullying, kicking someone down to the ground. I am convinced the people of Scotland are against this action.”

Bill Speirs, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress said: “This action is wrong. This may not be a popular view, but it is one which has been consistently taken by the STUC over the years - including the years when we were opposing Saddam while British Governments and British companies were arming him. The Iraqi people never elected this dictator, but it is they we are punishing today, not Saddam.”

The Scottish Socialist Party condemned the bombing as the “mass murder of innocent people.”

The Scottish branch of the United Nations Association helped with the vigil. Malcolm Harper, director of the UNA in London, wrote to the Times opposing the bombing and making it clear that there was no resolution from the UN which legitimised the attack.

Rev Maxwell Craig the General Secretary of Action of Churches Together in Scotland sent an open letter to Tony Blair on behalf of the main protestant and catholic churches in Scotland. In it he said that the attack on Iraq was “without moral foundation of any kind.”

Maryanne Ure of the Scottish Catholic Justice and Peace Commission said: “Resorting to violence, however it is described, is an admission that we have no better answers than Saddam Hussein.”

Maulana Mohammed Farghurquadri of Glasgow’s Central Mosque said that President Clinton had acted “disgracefully” by ordering the raids just before the start of Ramadan.

Mahmood Al-Sabbaqh, an Iraqi living in Glasgow, described how he had contacted his relatives: “When I spoke to my family they said they are hiding under the stairs. All the windows have been blown out in the house.”

Faten Hameed, an Iraqi living in Jordanhill, Glasgow, had looked after Mariam, the 4 year old girl George Galloway brought to Glasgow for treatment. After the first night of bombing Faten said: “I know Mariam misses Glasgow and is grateful to everybody. But I phoned her this morning and she was crying. Bill Clinton is terrorising everybody and killing innocent people.”

On the first night of the bombing Faslane Peace Campers broke into Britain’s base which harbours weapons of mass destruction. One of them cycled through the gate at Faslane in the early hours of the morning. Others cut a hole in the fence. Five were arrested.

Scottish CND      Magazine