HOUSTON – Protesters around the world took to the streets Saturday to protest for and against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria, as President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for such a move.
That included Fort Wayne, where a small group gathered at the Courthouse Green downtown to oppose U.S. action.
Obama said the U.S. should take action against Syria to punish it for what the U.S. believes was a deadly chemical attack launched by Syrian President Bashar Assad this month that killed more than 1,400 people. But Obama said he wants Congress to debate and vote on whether to use force, and has said any possible strike would be limited.
In Houston, which has a large Syrian-American population, about 100 people lined up on opposite sides of a street in an upscale neighborhood to express opposing views on a possible U.S. attack.
We want any kind of action. The world has stood silently, and it’s been too long. Something needs to be done, said Tamer Barazi, a 23-year-old civil engineer who carried a Syrian flag and a sign stating Syrian Americans for peace, democracy and freedom in Syria.
Standing across the street in Houston’s sweltering heat were those opposing U.S. intervention, outnumbering the supporters of an intervention. Some carried signs stating We Don’t Want Obama’s War and Hands Off Syria.
How would you like another country to decide who is going to be the president of the United States? asked 53-year-old Hisam Saker, a Syrian-American property manager who has lived in Houston for 33 years.
In Washington, as Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden, anti-war demonstrators chanted and waved placards outside the White House. Across the street, Syrians and Syrian Americans who support U.S. action waved flags from their country and shouted for Assad’s ouster.
In Boston, more than 200 protesters demonstrated in the Boston Commons against the possible use of force against Syria by the U.S. They waved signs and chanted Don’t Bomb Syria! over and over again, and at least one speaker said congressional authorization wouldn’t make an attack acceptable.
I had friends that died in Iraq, and I don’t want more people to die for nothing, said Dominic Box, 23, expressing some of the fears of a war-weary public.
In downtown Chicago, about 40 people walked quietly in the rain, circling a sculpture in Daley Plaza. Some carried signs that read No War In Syria and Shut It Down.
In London, more than 1,000 protesters carrying Syrian flags and placards marched to Downing Street and rallied in Trafalgar Square. Some hailed the parliament’s vote Thursday against British participation as a victory.
And about 700 people turned out for an anti-war demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, police said. Organizers said only a sovereign, independent Syria free of foreign interference would make it possible for the Syrian people to shape the country’s future.
At a protest organized by left-wing opposition parties in Amman, Jordan, Kawthar Arrar described any military intervention as an aggression on the whole Arab world.
The protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy, chanting slogans and setting fire to American and Israeli flags.