Nostalgia: Fife prepares as UK joins war on Iraq

The Iraq War demonstration in Kirkcaldy in 2003
The Iraq War demonstration in Kirkcaldy in 2003

Fife emergency services began preparing for the prospect of the outbreak of war in March 2003.

The Fife Free Press reported that the region’s Chief Constable, Peter Wilson, confirmed that emergency planning was up to date, with more meetings to be held.

A speaker at the demo held at Volunteers' Green.

A speaker at the demo held at Volunteers' Green.

And he said the police were doing their utmost to try to reassure the ethnic business community amid fears of violence when British troops invaded Iraq.

At a meeting of the council’s community safety committee on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 – the day the first British aerial strikes took place – Mr Wilson called on councillors and members of the public report any incidents to them so they could take action.

”The key area for us in community safety is to seek your support,” said the Chief Constable.

”My greatest concern is for those people who find themselves particularly vulnerable because of their ethnic background.

”There is no doubt that there is a real fear, about what may lie in the weeks ahead.

“I would ask that if you pick up any information we can assist with you contact us so that we can be seen to be responsive.”

Mr Wilson said the possibility of war meant the police would have to extend their duties, and there had been some reorganisation.

Locals in Kirkcaldy, outraged by what they felt was an illegal attack on Iraq, organised a protest march.

The anti-war march took place on Saturday, March 29, leaving from Beveridge park and finishing in Volunteers’ Green.

Tommy Sheridan was scheduled to speak at the rally but cancelled at the last minute.

He sent his apologies and a message to Kirkcaldy protestors, saying: ”I applaud you for coming out today and urge you to keep the flag of peace and international human solidarity flying”.

However, civil rights lawyer Aamer Anwar did join the hundreds of protesters, after speaking at an earlier event in the Parkway Hotel the previous week.

He was joined by journalist Yvonne Ridley, who hit the headlines in 2002 when she was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The demonstration march, organised by the Fife Stop the War Coalition, also saw talks by MSPs Robin Harper and Tricia Marwick, Mr Anwar and local Iraqi businesswoman, Susan Karim.

Taking the platform, Mrs Karim, spoke of her relatives who lived in Baghdad.

She said: ”The bombs have been dropping on them day and night, they can’t sleep, their houses are shattered, they have no food and they say this is for liberation.

”Bush and Blair are fighting for freedom, the Iraqis are fighting for their lives.”

Mr Anwar said: ”There is no doubt in our minds that the Iraqi people would be better off without Saddam Hussein. But the whole world would be better off without George Bush.”

A number of demonstrators got on stage to make impromptu rally cries.

Among them was 11-year-old Hannah Robertson, from Aberdour, who said: ”Every little bit we do helps.

“We will stop this war and I don’t care how.”

Leader of the Green Party, Mr Harper, said he was impressed with the turn out.

He said: “I’m pleased with the mix of people from the young to the very old and clearly not all people are normally politically-minded.”

A spokesman for the coalition said the group was pleased with the event and would continue campaigning against the attack on Iraq.

She said: ”It was a really vibrant, lively march. There were a lot of people with children and, I would imagine, a number who were on a demonstration for the first time.”