Thousands in Europe Protest Raid : Anti-U.S. Groups Denounce Attack on Libyan Cities
Thousands of demonstrators marched through West European cities Saturday, chanting anti-American slogans and denouncing last week’s U.S. bombing raid on Libya.
In London, where 10,000 people turned out for a march to the U.S. Embassy, police clashed briefly with protesters in scenes reminiscent of the far larger demonstrations mounted in Western Europe three years ago against deployment of U.S. medium-range nuclear missiles by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Police reported 67 arrests Saturday.
There were also large demonstrations in Rome, Vienna, Bonn and West Berlin and smaller ones in several other cities. Turkish police defused a bomb found outside an Istanbul bank partly owned by American interests. In New Delhi, a meeting of nonaligned nations applauded Libyan Foreign Secretary Kamal Hassan Makour when he called for “attacks against (the United States) in all fields and directing blows against it everywhere.”
To some extent, the marches in Europe symbolized the extent to which the American and West European publics differ in their response to Tuesday’s air attack on Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and the country’s second city, Benghazi. The raid was ordered by President Reagan in reprisal for the April 5 terrorist bombing, blamed on Libya, that killed two people and injured more than 200 in a West Berlin nightclub popular with American servicemen.
Even though Europeans have themselves been subjected to a high level of terrorist activity, they have generally disapproved strongly of the U.S. attack, regarding it either as an overreaction or counterproductive or both.
70% Oppose Attack
Even in Britain, the lone American ally in Europe whose government actively supported the raid, public opinion surveys show roughly 70% of the population against the attack.
Demonstrators in London clashed with police in the city’s popular Oxford Street shopping area as a group of protesters broke away from the main demonstration at the nearby American Embassy and attempted to block traffic in the area.
In one incident, demonstrators hurled paint and signs with anti-American slogans at police. A few protesters tried to break through heavy police cordons and entered the embassy grounds but were quickly subdued.
“We came to register massive public disgust at the bombing of Libya,” said Bruce Kent, a clergyman and vice chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the organization that spearheaded public protests here against U.S. missile deployment in 1983. “It’s no way to solve the world’s problems by state terrorism.”
Protesters carried anti-American signs and chanted “Yanks out!” and “U.S. bases out!”
The American F-111 supersonic fighter-bombers used in the Libyan raid took off for the attack from bases in Britain and returned here. Although the bases belong to the Royal Air Force, they are operated by the U.S. military.
There were also smaller demonstrations outside Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s office at 10 Downing St. and in other parts of Britain.
Small groups of protesters gathered outside Royal Air Force bases in Upper Heyford, near Oxford, and at Lakenheath, 75 miles northeast of London, where the F-111s used against Libya are stationed.
11 Seized at Sub Base
Eleven protesters were arrested after cutting a perimeter fence and trying to enter a British nuclear submarine base in Faslane, Scotland, near Glasgow.
In Rome, an estimated 15,000 people marched in what observers described as more of a peace march than an anti-American protest. Demonstrators walked behind a large banner that read, “Banish War From History.”
A smaller demonstration in Milan was reported to have been more anti-American in tone.
In Vienna, about 4,000 demonstrators marched to the American Embassy and burned an effigy of President Reagan, while in West Berlin, 6,500 people walked through the city, beginning their protest at the memorial to American pilots whose efforts in flying supplies into the city in the late 1940s helped break a Soviet blockade.
‘Hands Off Libya’
Police estimated that nearly 10,000 protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, some of them shouting “Hands off Libya!” and “U.S. genocide!” The area around the embassy, beside the Rhine River, was heavily cordoned off. When some of the marchers, within sight of the embassy, began throwing bottles and stones and setting off firecrackers, police dispersed them, detaining four.
The protests in West Germany were organized by the anti-nuclear peace movement, a loose coalition of trade union and church groups and members of the Communist and Greens parties, the latter a radical environmentalist organization.
As demonstrators took to the streets in Britain, the government launched its own public relations campaign aimed at stemming the high level of public outrage over the use of the British bases for the air strike.
Explaining the Decision
Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe and Defense Secretary George Younger are scheduled to make a series of television and radio appearances today to explain Thatcher’s decision to support the attack.
The chairman of Thatcher’s governing Conservative Party, Norman Tebbit, told a party rally in the northern city of Harrogate that the Libyan government was supporting terrorists “with intelligence, with transport, false papers, false identification and with arms and munitions.”
He also condemned a decision by the country’s largest news media trade union, the National Union of Journalists, to send Col. Moammar Kadafi, the Libyan leader, a letter of condolence for those Libyans who died in the raid.
At the same time, Thatcher’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Tom King, repeated the allegation that Kadafi was actively backing the outlawed Irish Republican Army with arms and money in its guerrilla war to end British rule in the province.
‘All Played Their Part’
“His oil money, his army, his training camps--all have played their part,” King said. “Just how big the total sum has been we may never know.”
Meanwhile, police wearing bulletproof vests ringed a police station in London where anti-terrorist detectives were questioning an Arab suspected of trying to blow up an El Al Israel Airlines jet.
Nezar Hindawi, 35, identified by police as a Palestinian, was held for a second day in connection with an attempt to smuggle a bomb onto the jumbo jet at Heathrow Airport on Thursday. The device was timed to explode in flight as the jet headed for Tel Aviv with 370 passengers and 18 crew members aboard, police said.
Under Britain’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, suspects can be held for up to nine days without charges.
The anti-terrorist squad arrested Hindawi after airport security officers detained his pregnant Irish girlfriend, Anne-Marie Murphy, 32, as she tried to board the El Al flight with a bomb hidden in the false bottom of a carryall bag.
Police said they believe that Murphy, a chambermaid at a luxury London hotel, was an unwitting pawn. Her relatives said that she was pregnant by Hindawi and that he had bought her a wedding dress, promising to marry her in Israel. Police freed Murphy late Saturday without bringing charges against her.
As the 101-member movement of nonaligned nations wound up a four-day meeting in New Delhi, Libyan Foreign Secretary Makour charged in a speech that “the main objective” of the U.S. attack on Libya was to kill Kadafi, an allegation that President Reagan and other Administration spokesman have flatly denied.
Makour also charged that the Administration plans to undertake similar strikes against Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Cambodia, and he blamed the United States and Britain for apartheid in South Africa.
“We should consider all means to put an end to this madness,” Makour said.
A delegation of nonaligned foreign ministers was traveling this weekend to Libya to express the movement’s support for Kadafi and then fly to New York to take part in a United Nations debate on the raid.
In Ankara, Turkish Interior Minister Yildirim Akbulut said a bomb was found, and defused, at the entrance of the Koc-American bank, a partnership of American Express and the Koc holding company of Turkey. He added that police had no idea who placed the device.
Turkey’s top police official, Saffet Arikan Beduk, identified as Libyans four men arrested Friday in connection with an apparent plan to attack a U.S. military officers’ club in Ankara. Two of the arrested men were carrying a briefcase containing hand grenades and other explosives, according to police.
Beduk did not identify the Libyans.