Public prayers and orange jumpsuits
LONDON Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of London to send an unwelcoming message to US President Donald Trump who is on an official visit to the UK. The demonstrations featured a diverse mix of ideologies and political leanings, all united in opposing Trump’s bigotry, which they say stands at odds with British values.
While scores of people had begun to amass outside Oxford Circus Station in central London, holding whistles and “Trump stinks” masks, 19-year-old Rowan Bayomi began the protest differently.
Armed with a prayer mat and placard, the young protester joined hundreds of other Muslims who had come to Cavendish Square gardens, metres from the main demonstration, to hold Friday prayers.
Organised by Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Muslim Association of Britain, the demonstrators prayed publicly as an act of solidarity with American Muslims living under Trump.
Trump’s visit had turned controversial within hours of his arrival.
His critics say the US president is bringing his bigoted rhetoric to Britain by promoting fear of immigrants and Muslims during his visit.
Trump renewed his attacks on London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Tuesday and said that immigration is killing Europe.
Aware of Trump’s latest episode, Muslim protesters joined the thousands of demonstrators in the heart of London to denounce the US president’s presence in the country.
“This is our way of resisting Trump and what he stands for,” Bayoumi told Middle East Eye.
“We knew Trump was coming, and we wanted to show the world that Muslims are against this man in a way that represents our faith and message in a positive light.”
Bayomi, wearing a black abaya and pink hijab, began to walk towards Regent Street. Following the lead of other Muslim activists, she held a poster featuring an orange bin emblazoned with the phrase “Dump Trump”.
The protest was due to end in London’s Trafalgar Square, where a rally would take place.
Trump and Brexit
Trump’s visit had come at the worst possible time. Following the referendum to leave the European Union in 2016, Britain saw the highest spike in religious and racial hate crimes.
Amina Hassan, a Somali student based in London, voiced concerns over the possible effects of Trump’s visit to Britain post-Brexit.”Trump’s visit has encouraged the far-right in this country,” said Hassan as she reacted to a picture of UK Prime Minister Theresa May holding Trump’s hand.
“What kind of message does this send when the leader of our country embraces a man who has been openly racist towards us or does she care more about a trade deal with the US?”
Broader concerns surfaced amongst Muslim protesters, including civil rights, weapon sales to repressive governments in the Middle East and foreign policy.
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