Magazine

Protests Around the World


In Greece, Thailand, and other places—even the Web—2010 saw demonstrations over such flash points as austerity measures, WikiLeaks, and a mosque near Ground Zero

BELIZE

On Nov. 13, two weeks before the U.N. climate talks, a group of about 250 people created this "aerial art" (above) to draw attention to the warming of the oceans and the damage caused to barrier reefs. In 2010, the temperature of the world's oceans was .92°F above the average for the century.

LONDON

More than 50,000 people massed near Parliament on Dec. 8 to protest a 200 percent hike in university tuition. Some tried to storm the Westminster building that houses the Conservative Party. The next night, a mob attacked the Rolls-Royce carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, to the theater, breaking a window and splattering white paint on the vehicle.

FRANCE

One million people demonstrated in Paris and other cities on Sept. 7 against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. Protests and strikes, which continued through the end of October, closed schools and halted refinery production. Flights and trains had to be canceled. Sarkozy's approval rating fell to 29 percent.

CHINA & JAPAN

A Sept. 7 collision between a Chinese trawler and Japanese coast guard boats led to international acrimony. In Tokyo, 3,000 people chanted anti-Chinese slogans while hundreds of Chinese protested at the Japanese embassy in Beijing. China temporarily halted exports to Japan of rare earth metals—vital in many high-tech products.

WIKILEAKS

Some businesses severed ties with WikiLeaks after it began releasing 250,000 secret diplomatic cables on Nov. 28. Anonymous, an activist hackers' group, retaliated against the Visa and MasterCard sites. Downloads of its cyberattack software hit 10,000 a day after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Dec. 7.

ARIZONA

Protesters organized an economic boycott after Arizona passed an unprecedented anti-immigrant law on Apr. 23. Arizona's Hotel and Lodging Assn. reported a loss of $15 million in revenue four months after its passage. The Center for American Progress estimated that the total economic damage of the boycott since April comes to $141 million.

THAILAND

Clashes between Thai forces and antigovernment protesters raged across Bangkok for two months, killing 89 people, injuring 1,800, and damaging much of the city. The leader of the so-called Red Shirts surrendered to police on May 19. Afterward, his followers set fire to banks and the stock exchange. That month foreign investors sold $1.81 billion worth of Thai stock.

NEW YORK

A Muslim group's plans to build a $100 million community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero sparked furious debate across the country. Throughout the summer and into the autumn, protesters on both sides gathered at the site. A pastor of a small congregation in Florida threatened to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 but didn't.

GREECE

Protests against wide-ranging austerity measures preceded a $146 billion bailout of Greece on May 2 by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Strikes shut down public services and disrupted transit. Demonstrators threw firebombs at buildings in Athens; three bank employees died. By August, unemployment had hit 12.2 percent, the highest rate since 2004.


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