LONDON - Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters demonstrated across Europe on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 45,000 marching from London's Hyde Park past the American Embassy.
In Istanbul, Turkey, about 15,000 people protested in the Kadikoy neighborhood against the U.S. presence in Iraq.
But the rallies were nowhere near as big as those in February 2003, just before the war, when millions marched in cities around the world to urge President Bush and his allies not to attack Iraq.
With international forces still facing violent opposition in Iraq, protesters were divided about what to demand from leaders now. While some wanted a full troop withdrawal, others argued that would leave Iraqis in a worse position than before the invasion.
"We got the Iraqis into this mess, we need to help them out of it," said Kit MacLean, 29, waiting near Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner before the London march began.
Police estimated about 45,000 demonstrators marched from the park past the American Embassy and on to Trafalgar Square.
Some worried Bush might be planning another war in the Middle East or elsewhere.
"After Iraq: Iran? Syria? Cuba?" read one placard. "Stop This Man" said another, alongside a picture showing Bush with devil's horns.
One man carried fake bombs with American flags painted on them and a dartboard map of the world showed a U.S. missile sticking out of Iraq.
Security was heavy as the demonstrators moved past the U.S. Embassy. Cement barricades and metal fences blocked the building, as they have since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Two former British soldiers placed a cardboard coffin bearing the words "100,000 dead" outside the embassy.
"George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam," marchers chanted.
At the demonstration in Istanbul, two marchers dressed like U.S. soldiers pretended to rough up another, who was dressed as a detainee with a sack on his head, in a mimed criticism of prisoner abuse cases.
"Murderer Bush, get out," read one sign.
In the southern city of Adana, home to a Turkish military base used by American forces, protesters laid a black wreath in front of the U.S. Consulate to protest the war, the Anatolia news agency reported.
In Athens, Greece, about 3,000 protesters brought the city center to a standstill for three hours and painted outlines of bodies outside the U.S. Embassy.
Hundreds also turned out in Sweden and Norway.
"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth in Stockholm, Sweden. "People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day."
With music and banners, marchers in Rome demanded the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq. "Iraq to the Iraqis!" read one banner.
Demonstrations also were planned in nine Spanish cities including Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque seaside resort of San Sebastian.
British elections expected in May added a charge to the London protest. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been Bush's staunchest ally in Iraq, despite strong domestic opposition to the war, especially among members of his Labour Party.
Some at the London protest said they could not support Blair but did not know whom else to vote for. The opposition Conservatives strongly backed the war while the third-largest party, the Liberal Democrats, opposed it. Several smaller parties are fielding anti-war candidates in hopes of loosening Blair's hold on power.
"I think it's outrageous what Blair and Bush think they can get away with," said retiree John Salway, 59. "I'd like to think we can put a dent in their arrogance."
How dare America and Britain bring freedom to the oppressed! How dare the Coalition Forces fight islamo-fascists and end the inhumane treatment of women, children, jews, and christians! How dare the US military fight to bring democracy and freedom to people who have been enslaved for thousands of years?
I am amazed that these thousands of people who marched through the streets of Europe last week demanding that Iraq be turned over to the Iraqis, demanding and that the Coalition Forces withdraw immeadiately, did not also march in the streets when Saddam gassed thousands of his people. Why is it wrong for America to fight for the downtrodden's liberty but it is ok for dictators to commit genocide against there own people?