Saturday's London march will start at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park at 1pm and end at Trafalgar Square.

 

Ihtisham Hibatullah, spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, told Aljazeera.net: "We are expecting at least 200,000 people to turn up.

 

"The purpose of this rally is to show the government that if they do not change their foreign policy, then they will not get our vote."

 

The demonstrators will hear speeches by anti-war campaigners such as the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and former Guantanamo Bay inmate Martin Mubanga. The group will place a coffin in front of the US embassy.

 

"We need help to make this demonstration as big as possible," the action group, which organised the rally, Stop The War Coalition, said on its website.

 

"With rumours of an attack on Iran in June and the demonstration being a matter of weeks before the general election it would be fantastic to have many hundreds of thousands of people expressing their anti-war sentiment," it said.

 

US resentment

 

A spokesman for the coalition said at least 100,000 people were expected to take part, noting that the march would pass in front of America's embassy in Grosvenor Square, where the organisers planned to place the coffin.

 

"The purpose of this rally is to show the government that if they do not change their foreign policy then they will not get our vote"

Ihtisham Hibatullah,
spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain

It will be the first mass demonstration outside the building since it became a flashpoint of anti-Vietnam War protests in 1968, the organisers said.

 

Washington's recent nomination of key Iraq-war planner Paul Wolfowitz as chairman of the World Bank had hardened people's US resentment, they added.

 

"One might have expected a little humility from the Bush administration after its destruction and occupation of Iraq," convenor Lindsey German said.

 

"However, the nomination of Wolfowitz, the man who is recognised as chief architect of war with Iraq, will outrage most decent people."

 

Eleventh rally

 

A fine spring day, with the sun shining from a clear blue sky, will likely boost numbers at Britain's 11th rally against the Iraq invasion - which began on 20 March 2003 - and coaches have been booked to ferry people to London from across the country.

 

MP George Galloway is due to
address the rally

Member of Parliament George Galloway, who is due to speak, said recent meetings he had attended around Britain showed there was still massive opposition to the nation's involvement in Iraq.

 

"The demonstration will form the backdrop to the election and we will not rest until we have forced the prime minister to withdraw our forces from Iraq," he said, referring to a general election that is widely expected on 5 May.

 

Protesters have set up a so-called peace camp in Trafalgar Square, which is down the road from the Houses of Parliament, as part of preparations for the demonstration, which is also supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

 

"We are calling for an end to the ongoing bloody occupation of Iraq, but we are also asking the question - where next Mr Bush?"

Kate Hudson, CND chairwoman

"This peace camp will reflect our message that there is a peaceful alternative to the violent, aggressive, warmongering policies that led to the war on Iraq and the deaths of thousands of innocent people," said CND chairwoman Kate Hudson.

 

"We are calling for an end to the ongoing bloody occupation of Iraq, but we are also asking the question - where next Mr Bush?"

 

Japanese protest

 

Thousands of Japanese took to the streets on Saturday also in protest against the US presence in Iraq and Japan's dispatch of troops there on the eve of the second anniversary of the US invasion.

 

More than 4500 people marched in a Tokyo demonstration that took place during US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Japan, said Ken Takada, a member of civic group World Peace Now.

 

"The Self-Defence Force should withdraw from Iraq immediately and the occupation of Iraq should be stopped," Takada said.

 

One protester wore a mask of US President George Bush and held a placard with a map of Iraq in the colours of the US flag. Another held a picture of what appeared to be Iraqi children in front of a destroyed building.

 

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's decision to send about 550 troops on a non-combat mission to the southern Iraqi city of Samawa has split public opinion.