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Say no to Bush's war on Iraq
We say no to this witch-hunt

By Elizabeth Schulte | December 6, 2002 | Page 2

ATTORNEY GENERAL John Ashcroft's witch-hunt against people of Arab descent came to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) last month. But students and faculty have vowed not to take this lying down.

M.J. Alhabeeb, a 48-year-old U.S. citizen who teaches economics, got a visit from an FBI agent escorted by campus police in October. The reason for the visit? A tip that claimed Alhabeeb had "anti-American views." Alhabeeb, who was born in Iraq, had to explain to agents that he fled the country in 1982, after his brother-in-law was executed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime.

Some 75 people met to voice their outrage at campus police working hand-in-hand with the FBI to terrorize people of Middle Eastern descent. "The fact that they're set up on college campuses is deeply disturbing," said Uri Strauss, a member of the Palestine Action Coalition. "The UMass community shouldn't tolerate it." The group is planning a December 10 public forum and demanding a meeting with UMass Chancellor John Lombardi.

On November 20, college and high school students in cities across the country participated in actions against a war in Iraq. More than 1,000 New York University students joined a walkout and rally. In Chicago, hundreds of students attended a citywide march organized by the Chicagoland Student Antiwar Network. At the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, activists organized an all-day speak-out.

At New School University in New York, students staged a sit-in at the office of the president, former Sen. Robert Kerrey, to demand that he hold a public forum to discuss the impact of his pro-war stance. Kerrey, who is a member of the pro-war Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, began swearing at protesters when the media interviewed them by cell phone.

Now, activists are looking ahead to actions as the U.S. gears up for an assault. At City College of New York (CCNY), activists have planned an emergency die-in in front of Army recruiters whenever they make an appearance on campus.

At Hunter College in New York, the Hunter Antiwar Coalition turned out 80 to an antiwar teach-in. "A day of war on Iraq is the same the city's school budget," Anthony Arnove, editor of the book Iraq Under Siege, told those who attended. "An hour of war on Iraq is the same as Brooklyn's library budget. A second of war on Iraq is the same as the city's entire yearly homeless budget." At the University of California at Los Angeles, the undergraduate student government passed a resolution condemning a U.S. attack.

Meanwhile, the Campaign Against War (CAW) at the University of Iowa narrowly lost a 25-22 vote in the student government for an antiwar resolution. About 100 protesters presented antiwar petitions at the meeting, and representatives from six student groups spoke out in favor. No opponents of the resolution dared speak. Now, CAW is organizing a debate on the war, gathering more petitions to present when they resubmit their resolution and building for the national antiwar march on January 18 in Washington, D.C.

John Butell, Pham Binh, Kristen Robinson, Gioconda Rodriguez and Mimi Van Ausdall contributed to this report. Send us reports about antiwar organizing--so that activists around the country can learn from each other. E-mail us at [email protected]

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