A group of about 80 people who marched yesterday to protest the war in Iraq urged others to contact their elected officials to express their disapproval.
"What we need are leaders who will stand up and say no," said the Rev. Jonathan Almond, pastor of Mathewson Street Church, downtown. "No more of this absurdity."
The protest, organized by the Rhode Island Community for Peace, coincided with other demonstrations across the state to mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.
The marchers stepped off from Central High School, on Broad Street, at about 1:30 p.m. carrying signs. As they made their way downtown to the Federal Building, and then to Beneficent Church, on Weybosset Street, they chanted slogans and sang songs.
At the church, several speakers criticized the Bush administration for its war policies, and Congress for not taking stronger actions to bring the troops home.
"We are imprisoned in our long national nightmare with an administration that abuses its power," Mr. Almond said.
A Brown University professor warned that there were signs that the United States might next invade Iran as part of an Iraq "exit strategy."
Elliott Colla, director of Middle East studies at Brown, laid out a scenario in which the Bush administration would justify attacking Iran by blaming that country for interfering with attempts to stabilize Iraq.
"Accusations of Iran meddling will be convenient," Colla said, when Iraqis don't meet certain benchmarks.
He said the Bush administration was looking at the problems in the Middle East the same way the United States viewed the Cold War — that totalitarianism is the enemy and the only alternative is to fight it with military force.
Colla said Iran was an authoritarian country with a poor record of human rights. "But we don't need to like Iran to know it doesn't pose a threat" to the United States, he said.
Raging Grannies, a five-woman group, opened the speeches with songs.
They sang familiar tunes, such as "Frere Jacques," with their own lyrics:
"Habeas corpus, habeas corpus / Now you're gone, now you're gone / Folks accused of treason / Don't know for what reason / Rot in jail, rot in jail."