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Paris protests target Bush

By Jim Bittermann
CNN

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CNN's Jim Bittermann reports that anti-war protests in Paris drew more than just the usual crowd.

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PARIS, France (CNN) -- In the crowd at the anti-war protest in Paris on Saturday, a lot of signs were particularly directed at President Bush.

Plenty of signs said "No to war" and that sort of thing, but the most striking thing to me was how anti-Bush this was. Shouts of "Bush, murderer" came from the crowd. One person held a pike with a plastic doll's head of Bush on the end of it. T-shirts said 'Bush, terrorist' and compared Bush to Adolf Hitler, and things like that. (European protests)

I didn't feel it was anti-American at any point. A lot of people go a long way here to stress that they are not anti-American, and the organizers certainly stressed that.

In fact, one of the rather large groups that marched was a group of Americans who live in France, and they came in from very far away, some of them from all parts of the country, to take part in the march.

There was this diversity in the crowd. We have demonstrations in France a lot, in fact almost a thousand a year. Usually they involve unions and organized groups that have a protest against the government.

What was striking about this was that first, it was such a diverse group -- from communist union to Catholic relief agency -- every manner of group that you can think of, plus individuals.

That was another thing that was striking: A lot of people just came on their own and carried signs that were clearly not manufactured; they were signs that they had just scrawled out themselves. I saw one guy who had made a sign out of a Heineken beer case.

An antiwar poster seen during peace rally in Paris
An antiwar poster seen during peace rally in Paris

And the other thing that was striking was that, unlike a lot of demonstrations we have here that are focused against the government or against government policy, this is one where the government wasn't in the street but certainly could have been, because everyone is on the same wavelength on this.

Opinion polls indicate that more than 70 percent of the French are against a war, and more than 80 percent suggest that France use its Security Council veto power to block a resolution authorizing war.

There is an unusual unanimity among the French these days, in a country not usually known for that. It is usually known for individual opinions, but in this case the focus against war has really brought the country together.


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