London Solidarity March Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

By Ralph Keller & Travis Blute

The legal challenges against Trump’s “Muslim ban” have raised major questions of the administration’s failure to follow proper process and their willingness to violate aspects of the constitution in restricting the right of citizens, from seven named countries, to enter the US. The voices from the popular protests against the “Muslim ban” have been very clear that they object to the racist character of Trump’s openly discriminatory and somewhat arbitrary selection of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as nations whose citizens are a special threat to America.

This London protest against the “Muslim ban”, the fourth major one here against Trump in the fortnight since his inauguration, was very much a judgement on the racist content of this particular executive order. People came out in solidarity not just with Muslims as a targeted group but also linked it to Trump’s promised southern border wall to stop the imagined threats of illegal Mexican rapists and drug-dealers as well as the broader racism he has green-lighted with his statements.

Though not reaching the scale of the huge women’s march exactly a fortnight ago this was still big and more skewed towards a younger participation with high estimates of 40,000 people in attendance. There were equal numbers of men and women, with plenty of evidently Muslim women who made their religious identity clear, whether they wore a head covering or not.

The few people who I spoke to, had not been on the women’s march, so whether that was indicative of there being little overlap in those who came on the protests would be hard to guess. There were plenty of homemade placards, as well as the more professionally produced official ones handed out by the organised left. One white woman wearing western clothes held aloft a placard with arrows pointing down at herself reading: “This is what a Muslim looks like”. Other placards included an Iranian woman holding: “This is my Iranian Bitch Face”. A regular theme was “identity groups” expressing solidarity with others facing discrimination such as “LGBTQA against Islamaphobia” or the unity of faith groups “ A Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu and a Buddhist walk into a bar, and have a perfectly pleasant evening, because none of them were tw*ts”. Some linked Trump and Brexit as parallel dangers with the yellow and black hazard stripes used on warning signs.

People spoke of the threat of division that Trump represented and the need to confront and overcome that. A few people expressed their disapproval of Theresa May’s sucking up to Trump and one person on the side of the march as it went down Piccadilly was trying to register Democrats abroad to influence future US elections, most people were however stressing the need for direct action to confront racists and fascists. These mostly young people were certainly not having anything of the narrative that projects values of apathy and political disengagement from real world issues, with them supposedly preferring to live entirely online.

Speakers at the after-march rally included representatives of Muslim and Jewish groups, the Green Party, as well as a video message from Jeremy Corbyn (which rather predictably had to be restarted after it was lacking audio) . One speaker expressed anger towards Teresa May for failing to distance herself and the UK from the Trump administration. The messages were unanimous: singling out and scapegoating of minority groups is an act of racism – across the world, not just the US – which needs to be fought continuously.

There have been 1.8 million signatures against Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK (on the rather unfortunate pretext that it will cause embarrassment to the queen). While many UK politicians in their diplomatic manner find ways to express their distaste for Trump, the masses are more direct and unequivocal in their total rejection of everything he represents. The personification of reaction in the form of Trump gives a focus to the resistance. Highlighting some of Trump’s physical characteristics allows people to use humour to make a serious point. One coordinated chant (to the tune of Queen’s We Will Rock You):

Trump with your orange face,
trying to divide the human race,
you’re a big disgrace
but we will, we will, STOP YOU!

A placard read “Hands too small, can’t build a wall” and “grab him by the toupe” and yet another placard in reference to his wig and more importantly his rejection of climate change as a conspiracy “you can’t comb over climate change”.

The worldwide movement against Trump continues to confound expectations that things will calm down after a few days. The protesters around the world are sending a loud and clear message, for people to take matters into their own hands, without relying on politicians and their parties.

Brick by Brick
Wall by Wall
Racist Borders have to fall

No ban
No registry
F*** White Supremacy

From Palestine to Mexico
Racist Walls have got to go.

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