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joins thousands in war protest

joins thousands in war protest

Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar joined tens of thousands of people in a march through Madrid on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq and to demand the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Chanting ''No to war!'' and ''The people of Madrid with the people of Iraq,'' the protesters marched along a 2 1/2-mile route from central Cibeles Plaza to Atocha Square. Organizers estimated the crowd at 400,000, but eyewitnesses put the attendance at less 100,000. Police did not give an estimate.

Other rallies were held around Spain, with some 2,000 gathering in Barcelona and 500 taking part in Seville, according to news reports.

Almodovar told the private Europa Press news agency he was protesting ''the barbarities they have been committing in Iraq for the past four years.''

''We're here for peace and for the closure of Guantanamo because it is a disgrace for civilization,'' he added.

Spain was the scene of major antiwar protests in the run-up to and during the first months of the war, with demonstrations in Barcelona and Madrid attracting more than 1 million people apiece.

Former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar was one of the strongest supporters of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. His party was voted out of office in March 2004, days after 191 people were killed in bomb attacks claimed by Islamic radicals to avenge the presence of the country's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The country's new prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, immediately withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq, claiming it was an illegal war.

Elsewhere Saturday, thousands crossed the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally near the Pentagon. More than 3,000 people protested the war in two separate demonstrations in Istanbul, Turkey, and 1,000 people marched in Athens, Greece. (AP)

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