Thousands in France and Germany protest war
Protesters in Berlin, Paris, Stuttgart and other cities call for soldiers to return home from Afghanistan.22 September 2008
BERLIN -- Thousands of people in France and Germany took to the streets on Saturday calling for soldiers in Afghanistan to be brought home, police and march organisers said.
Both countries will soon have parliamentary votes on the issue.
More than 5,000 people took to the streets Saturday in Berlin and Stuttgart to protest the decision to continue the deployment of German troops in Afghanistan, police from both cities said.
Demonstrators, who had been mobilised by 250 pacifist groups and trade union organisations, carried banners with slogans including "Give peace a chance - Bring the troops back from Afghanistan".
At least 3,300 people rallied in Berlin and a further 2,000 in Stuttgart, although the event organisers put the total figure at 7,000 people.
In France, marches calling for the recall of French troops in Afghanistan took place in about 10 towns across the country, organised by political activists, trades unions and several left-wing opposition political parties.
In Paris, where the biggest march took place, 3,000 people took part – although police estimate the number to be 2,000.
Opposition parties supporting the demonstrations included the Greens, the Communist Party, and the far left Revolutionary Communist League.
The march took place two days before a parliamentary vote on France's deployment in Afghanistan.
Germany has about 3,500 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), stationed in Kabul and in the north of Afghanistan.
That figure is set to rise to 4,500 in the coming months, depending on a vote on October 7 in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.
Since 2002 about 30 German troops have died there and public support for their continued deployment has decreased.
France has 3,000 troops serving with the 70,000-strong international force fighting the revived Taliban.
On August 18, 10 French soldiers were killed in an attack east of Kabul. France has lost a total of 24 soldiers in Afghanistan, where its troops are serving in the NATO-led ISAF force.
[AFP / Expatica]