• STV
  • MySTV

Not in Our Name: How Iraq sparked a new anti-war movement

Opposition to war in Iraq galvanised a million people to march in London in February 2003.

Protests: Opponents of overthrowing Saddam by military force took to the streets.
Protests: Opponents of overthrowing Saddam by military force took to the streets. PA

In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq a new anti-war movement sparked into life.

Galvanised by what they considered to be the US and the UK's determination to start a war, protesters mobilised across the world.

The UK was no exception, staging some of the biggest demonstrations in the country's history.

On September 28, 2002, there was the first indication of the strength of feeling in Britain against attacking Iraq.

The demonstration was organised in protest to the dossier that had been published only days before by Tony Blair's government, which had painted Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a "serious threat" to the UK.

Protesters believed the document - which would eventually become known as the "dodgy dossier" - was being used to stoke fears and bolster the case for war.

Organisers insisted over 350,000 people attended the 'peace rally' in London's Hyde Park, although police put estimates at around 150,000.

Solidarity: Palestinian flags are flown at a 2002 'peace rally' in London.
Solidarity: Palestinian flags are flown at a 2002 'peace rally' in London. PA

Anti-war sentiment ran high in Scotland too.

A protest in Glasgow's George Square on October 19, 2002, was one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Scotland since the 1980s.

Police estimated a turnout of around 5000, although again organisers thought the numbers had been underestimated and suggested they were closer to 15,000.

George Square: Anti-war demonstrators on October 19, 2002.
George Square: Anti-war demonstrators on October 19, 2002. PA

A national day of action at the end of October 2002 saw a wave of over 150 protests timed to coincide with Hallowe'en, culminating in a demonstration of an estimated 3000 people outside Westminster.

Protest action began to take increasingly creative forms, such as the "die-in" staged in Whitehall in December 2002 and the blocking of the road outside the British Army's headquarters in January 2003.

From left to right: The Hallowe'en protest; a mother and child at the "die-in" on December 2, 2002; the protest outside Army headquarters on January 19, 2003.
From left to right: The Hallowe'en protest; a mother and child at the "die-in" on December 2, 2002; the protest outside Army headquarters on January 19, 2003. PA

On February 15, 2003, the largest protest in UK history took place in London along with co-ordinated rallies across the world, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A rally in Rome that day was officially named the largest protest in history by the Guinness Book of World Records, with around 3 million people thought to have been in attendance.

Over a million people are thought to have taken part in the march in London.

February 15, 2003: A million marched in London.
February 15, 2003: A million marched in London. PA

Anti-war activism continued right up until military action began on March 20, including a large demonstration on the streets of Edinburgh on March 6.

Edinburgh protest: Demonstrators take to the streets on March 6, 2003.
Edinburgh protest: Demonstrators take to the streets on March 6, 2003. PA

Opposition to the Iraq War continued throughout the conflict, even if the numbers seen in protests during the run-up to military action began to fall.

By 2004, polling was beginning to suggest British public opinion of the war was shifting decisively against it.

A rally was held on March 20, 2004, to mark the first anniversary of the launch of military action.

2004: Protesters mark the first anniversary of the Iraq conflict.
2004: Protesters mark the first anniversary of the Iraq conflict. PA

As the conflict intensified, new voices entered the anti-war movement, including Rose Gentle from Glasgow, whose son Gordon died in Basra in 2004.

Ms Gentle became one of the most prominent anti-war campaigners in the UK and founded an organisation called Military Families Against The War.

Believing the war to be illegal, she has unsuccessfully fought to have this recognised in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Ms Gentle was a fierce critic of delays to the publication of the Chilcot report, which will be published on Wedneday and will aim to answer key questions regarding Britain's involvement in the conflict.

Rose Gentle: Her son Gordon served in the Royal Highland Fusiliers before he died.
Rose Gentle: Her son Gordon served in the Royal Highland Fusiliers before he died.

In the US, Cindy Sheehan - another mother who lost a son in Iraq - came to international attention in August 2005 when she launched a protest in a makeshift camp outside President George W Bush's Texas ranch.

She unsuccessfully stood for Congress in 2008 and was sued in the US government in 2012 for failing to pay her taxes - Sheehan said in response: "If they can give me my son back, then I'll pay my taxes."

Cindy Sheehan: Anti-war activist outside the White House, July 3 2006.
Cindy Sheehan: Anti-war activist outside the White House, July 3 2006. Elvert Barnes

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.