Protesters in DC denounce violence

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Protesters in D.C. denounce violence

By NATASHA T. METZLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Thousands of people gathered across from the White House on Saturday, even though the president was out of town, to condemn U.S. and Israeli policies in the Middle East.

Speakers in Lafayette Park energized the most mostly Muslim crowd with chants and speeches condemning Israeli involvement in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, U.S. support for Israel and U.S. involvement in Iraq .

“We all stand united against the violence and the killing in the holy land,” said Esam Omesh, president of the Muslim American Society, a co-sponsor of the demonstration, along with the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee and the National Council of Arab Americans.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark drew cheers when he called for President Bush ‘s impeachment.

“We‘ve made more enemies during the presidency of George Bush than in the rest of our history combined,” Clark said.

Hassan Rida, 26, traveled from Farmington Hills, Mich., with his 15-year-old cousin, Hassan Mokbel, who was vacationing in southern Lebanon when the current crisis started and had to escape through Syria . He and friends Nehme Mhanna, 24, and Mona Alaouie, 24, from Dearborn, Mich., said they wanted to show support for the Lebanese and educate Americans about the situation.

Habib Ghanim, 55, of Silver Spring, Md., said he voted for Bush, but would probably vote democratic in the next election, because he is disappointed and wants to “stop the fighting on all sides.”

A law enforcement official on the scene estimated that there were about 5,000 people attending the rally and subsequent march through the streets of Washington, which was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation and the National Council of Arab Americans.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.