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Germany

Easter peace marches focus on Libya intervention and nuclear power

The weekend in Germany brought soaring temperatures as activists celebrated one of the country's Easter traditions. Opposition to NATO intervention in Libya and renewed concern about nuclear power dominated the agenda.

Protesters on bikes during the easter marches on Friday.

Protesters took to their bikes for the Easter demonstrations

Easter in Germany isn't just a time to celebrate Christian values and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many choose to mark the religious holiday with traditional marches for peace.

Thousands took part in protests across the country on Easter weekend to call for peace and nuclear disarmament.  

Some 150 motorcyclists from the peace group "Bikers without Borders" began a peace demonstration of their own in Cologne on Sunday, traveling on through several cities including Gelsenkirchen and Essen. Members called for nuclear disarmament and, in light of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, an end to nuclear power.

A British Tornado fighter plane

The NATO intervention in Libya drew special criticism, with calls for more negotiation

The peace network Friedenskooperative, which organized the event, was also critical of the NATO intervention in Libya and on Sunday called for a greater emphasis on negotiations between governments and opposition movements throughout the Arab world.

"It is better that there is immunity for presidents who leave office than further violence, with more civilian victims," said head of the organization Manfred Stenner.

The anti-nuclear demonstrations began on Friday with a rally in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Around 170 protesters marched across the state from the city of Schwerin to the nuclear waste dump near Lubmin in the northeast.

A march also took place in Bruchköbel in the state of Hessen, attracting around 200 people.

High turnout

In Berlin, police said around 1,500 people participated in protests on Saturday against nuclear power and NATO's Libya operations. Around 750 protesters gathered in Hamburg, demanding the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan, a ban on nuclear weapons and the decommissioning of Germany’s nuclear plants.

In the Bavarian city of Munich, at least 450 demonstrators took to the streets.

Organizers were expecting "several thousand" protesters to take part in demonstrations in the western town of Gronau, the site of a uranium enrichment facility, on Monday.

Meanwhile, Protestant and Catholic bishops also used Good Friday to convey messages of peace and tolerance.

Easter sermons

Nicholas Schneider, the president of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), centered his Good Friday address on continuing suffering in the world.

Kardinal Reinhard Marx

Kardinal Reinhard Marx's sermon had a somber tone

Speaking in Cathedral Willibrordi in Wesel, he prayed for the many people who are victims of ignorance, selfishness and crime.

Alluding to troubled spots such as Afghanistan, Gaza and Nigeria, Saxon Protestant Bishop Jochen Bohl asserted that people should not to put up with violence. The world has become "accustomed to violence" he said.

Catholic Ludwig Schick, the Bamberger Archbishop emphasized the importance of the crucifix in society, saying it stands for tolerance, community and charity, while Cardinal Reinhard Marx warned against the practice of Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

Speaking in Munich Cathedral, he claimed that it is designed to fulfill the desire for parents to have the guarantee of a healthy child, "even if the expense is the destruction of human life."

Author: Spencer Kimball, Charlotte Chelsom-Pill, Richard Connor (AP, dpa, epd, KNA)

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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