How London’s Muslims stood up to Trump

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 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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