WASHINGTON – The permit has been obtained and the plan has been decided for Saturday's national march to protest U.S. involvement in the Middle East.
Thousands of people will come to Washington to protest against what sponsors call the war on Palestine and Lebanon. More than 15 buses,vans and car caravans will come from every state on the East Coast,Midwest and South,and others are coming to D.C. from the West.
Hundreds of organizations from around the country have endorsed the demonstration,which is sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism),the National Council of Arab Americans and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.
“Buses are coming from New York City,Philadelphia,Boston,Detroit,Chicago,Baltimore,Cleveland and North Carolina. From all over the country,people are marching together to protest the war,” said Brian Becker,ANSWER Coalition's national coordinator.
Starting at noon at Lafayette Park,the protesters will gather at a rally before marching around the White House. The two-hour rally will include speeches from Ramsey Clark,a former U.S attorney general; Clovis Maksoud,former ambassador from the Arab League to the U.S.; and leaders from Lebanon,Palestine and other communities.
The president is on vacation at his ranch in Crawford,Texas,and is expected to return to Washington on Sunday.
Becker said the event is not just five people speaking at a podium who oppose the war on Palestine and Lebanon but thousands of Americans from different communities who are protesting.
In previous weeks,massive protests have taken place in the Middle East and Europe. The organizers of this weekend's march want it to be “the single biggest demonstration in the U.S. to date showing growing opposition in this country to the U.S.- Israeli war.”
The U.S. has no military forces involved in either place,but organizers of the protest say the government is supplying money and arms and could stop the conflicts if it wanted to.
The Bush administration has said Israel has a right to defend itself and is working with other nations on a United Nations resolution to stop the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“We have mobilized our community all over the country to come to this march because we are outraged by what is being done in Lebanon and in Gaza in the name of American people,” said Mahdi Bray,the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation executive director.
He said the war in the Middle East not only violates U.S. and international law but also the law of God.
“The madness must stop,” Bray said. He said the U.S. government is encouraging Israel in its execution of the war. He said the U.S. government is silent about what is happening.