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The Guardian NOVEMBER 29, 2015 - by Tracy McVeigh
GEORGE GALLOWAY, MARK RYLANCE AND BRIAN ENO JOIN IN LONDON PROTEST OVER SYRIA AIRSTRIKES
Musician Eno tells "disappointingly small" crowd that Britain will "dig itself into a deeper hole".
A hastily arranged day of protests across the country saw around a thousand people gather outside Downing Street on Saturday, and other, smaller demonstrations across Britain under a "Don't Bomb Syria" banner.
The Stop The War coalition said the events, described as an "emergency protest" ahead of a possible Commons vote on military intervention against Islamic State, had been held in eighteen towns and cities. More protests are planned for , including in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In London, actor Mark Rylance, musician Brian Eno and London mayoral candidate George Galloway led the speeches. "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail," Eno told the crowd, adding that a kneekjerk reaction to the November 13 atrocities in Paris would lead to Britain "digging itself into a deeper and deeper hole".
"Why don't we start doing the clever thing and follow the money," he said, attacking alleged Turkish and Saudi involvement in ISIS funding.
Eno said later that he had attended in the hope that the demonstration would "make the government nervous that they can't just steamroller over people's feelings about this".
Many demonstrators looked back to the 2003 Stop The War protests, the biggest ever seen in Britain, but bemoaned Saturday's low turnout. "Words can't describe how disappointing it is for me. It's heartbreaking," said protester Martin Rosendaal, seventy-eight, the son of a refugee from the Nazis and a former soldier. "How many wars have I lived through to know when one is wrong? All my life we've been interfering in Arab wars and made the situation worse. There's no question that what the terrorists are doing is disgraceful, and I'm no pacifist - but bombing will recruit for the terrorists, there's no doubt about that."
After the speeches a letter to the prime minister was handed over at the gates to Downing Street, signed by thirty politicians and celebrities including Rylance, Eno, comedians Arthur Smith, Frankie Boyle and Francesca Martinez, film-maker Ken Loach and writer Michael Rosen. The letter calls on David Cameron to look for "political solutions" and points out that wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that "western military interventions lead to large-scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees". It claims this had led to a rise in terrorism, and asks the government to stop arming Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which fund such groups.
With the possibility that MPs may be asked to vote on extending the British bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria as soon as Wednesday, the campaigners are now urging people to lobby their MPs over the next few days.