Thousands protest in US, Europe over travel ban

Demonstrators in London protesting against US President Donald Trump's travel ban on Jan 30, 2017.
Demonstrators in London protesting against US President Donald Trump's travel ban on Jan 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Biggest rally against Trump's order in London, drawing some 10,000

NEW YORK • From London and Paris to New York and Washington, thousands of people took to the streets last Saturday in the US and European cities to protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, even as it was suspended by a federal judge.

The biggest demonstration by far took place in the British capital, where an estimated 10,000 people showed up, chanting "Theresa May, shame on you" to denounce the British Prime Minister's support for the new US leader.

Waving placards declaring "No to scapegoating Muslims" and "Socialism not Trumpism", protesters moved from the US Embassy towards Mrs May's Downing Street office.

In an executive order issued on Jan 27, Mr Trump slapped a blanket ban on nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - barring their entry to the United States for 90 days.

Refugees were barred from entry for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were blocked indefinitely.

TRUMP'S TWEETS

The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, on District Judge James Robart, who temporarily blocked his immigration order.

When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!

However, last Friday, a US federal judge suspended the ban, a move that the Republican President - who took office on Jan 20 - condemned and vowed to fight.

On the other side of the Atlantic, about 3,000 people demonstrated in New York, Mr Trump's home town, where protests against the property magnate-turned-world leader are near-daily.

Activists and supporters gathered outside the historic Stonewall Inn, a landmark of the gay rights movement in New York's Greenwich Village, to show support for Muslims as well as others affected by Mr Trump's immigration order.

Democratic Senate minority leader Charles Schumer led the crowd - which carried rainbow and US flags - with cheers of "Dump Trump". In Washington, hundreds marched from the White House to Capitol Hill to show their solidarity.

"Donald, Donald, can't you see, we don't want you in DC," chanted the demonstrators in the largely Democratic-leaning US capital.

Many waved home-made signs with slogans such as "Love knows no borders" and "Will swop Trump for 1,000 refugees".

"I was born and raised here and, for the first time in my life, I don't feel safe," said protester Abu Bakkar, 26, whose parents were originally from Pakistan. The Department of Defence consultant said the new President "has revealed hate that's been underground for so long. He has divided one of the greatest countries in the world".

In Britain, more than 1.8 million people have signed a petition saying Mr Trump should not be afforded a formal state visit as it would embarrass Queen Elizabeth II.

"We're going to bring this capital to a halt on the day he comes over. We are going to make it impossible for him to have a state visit," said Mr Chris Nineham, vice-chairman of the Stop the War Coalition.

The Guardian newspaper said around 10,000 people attended the London protest, while organisers claimed 40,000.

Elsewhere in Europe, about 1,000 people took part in rallies in both Paris and Berlin, while smaller gatherings of several hundred people took place in British cities, including Manchester and Birmingham.

"We are here to say we don't accept hate," said 20-year-old American Michael Jacobs, co-organiser of the Paris rally, surrounded by signs saying "Refugees are welcome!" In Berlin, protesters rallied in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

"I hope they will change something but I am really disappointed," said 26-year-old Iranian medical student Mahsa Zamani, who had been due to head to a Florida hospital for an internship. "It is still discrimination, and I don't know if I really feel like going even if they are changing (the rules)."

Last Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters marched near Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and vacation home in Florida, The Washington Post reported.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Thousands protest in US, Europe over travel ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe