Tens of thousands rally to protest Bush visit to India

Waving black and white flags and chanting "Death to Bush," tens of thousands of Indians rallied Wednesday in New Delhi to protest a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Crowd estimates varied, but one police officer said as many as 100,000 people, mostly Muslims, had gathered in a fairground in central New Delhi.

The rally was organized by an umbrella grouping of Muslims, communists and poor farmers, some of whom had traveled through the night by bus and train to join the rally to denounce the Bush visit and protest the publication of the Prophet Muhammad drawings in some west European newspapers.

"The people of India have a categoric message for George Bush: Go home!" V.P. Singh, a former prime minister of India, said to roars of approval from the crowd.

Bush was to arrive later Wednesday in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of more than 1 billion people that also has one of the world's largest Muslim populations.

In the southern city of Hyderabad, communist party supporters Wednesday conducted a mock funeral of the American president. Around 5,000 supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) carried an effigy representing Bush's dead body through the streets of Hyderabad and later burned it, shouting "Warmonger Bush, go back."

Muslim groups also have called for a daylong strike to protest Bush's visit Friday to Hyderabad, a center of India's booming information technology industry. Muslims account for nearly 40 percent of the city's 7 million people, reports the AP.


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