Update: Exeter’s “emergency” protest over Trump’s muslim ban
Spoiler alert, people aren’t loving Theresa May right now.
Tonight Exeter joined multitudes of cities across the UK in an “emergency protest.” These demonstrations being a direct reaction to Trump’s “muslim ban” – the executive order which bars citizens of 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US.
The protest held in Exeter was organised by three friends: Baraa Ehssan Kouja, Malaka Mohammed and Lizzie Harman. Baraa explained that his cause for protesting was that he “ticks all the boxes” for Trump’s anti immigration policies what with being a Muslim, Syrian and a refugee. Palestinian born Malaka gave a moving speech about her separation from her family due to the troubles in Gaza. Tearfully she noted that she was “here today because I know how it feels to have your rights to be with family and friends at home taken away from you…we are here tonight because refugees are welcome and they should be welcome.”
Speaking to Malaka after her speech she revealed that although Trump’s policies are implemented in the US she feels less welcome in the UK as ‘America [is] leading the world…when I heard about the decision two days ago I could not sleep…I felt really scared, when you walk in the street with a Hijab people look at you differently.” When asked if she had experienced any Islamaphobic abuse during her time at University in the north of England she stated that she had had her “scarf pulled off by two men in the street.”
Over the evening, there were many speakers and protestors from various backgrounds discussing the issue at hand such as: the Green Party, Labour Women’s council, the Labour Party and Exeter City Sanctuary to name a few. One enthusiastic American speaker stated that “I want to start by saying, I am sorry, I am sorry for all those who voted for this man…I am sorry for my own family that voted for him.” A common theme was the discussion of how “10 days [of Trump] could cause so much damage” and dissatisfaction. As the speeches went on frustration grew as did comparisons with historical political disasters. One speaker continuously drew on “parallels” with Nazi Germany whilst another simply recited George Santayana’s famous quote “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As the anti-Trump sentiment grew in the crowd so did the discussion of British responsibility.
What soon became clear was that many people were there simply to send a message to the Prime minister Theresa May. One protester commented that her “cowardice disgusts me, the fact that she sat there and held hands with that orange thing is a disgrace…we need to take a stand we need an elected Prime minister to speak for us.” The anger towards Mrs May was a common theme throughout the night with one attendee stating that “I’m particularly angry at our government’s response to [the ban] because she claims to stand for human rights…she’s said that [the band is] an issue only if it affects British nationals, thats just not good enough…so many MPs have called for her to condemn this and nothing is being done.” In fact, many protestors called for Jeremy Corbin to take the reigns due to Theresa’s “weak” response.
The concluding sentiments of the night was that Trump’s Presidency should be seen as a “learning curb.” The final speaker noted that “this is how we progress…how we move on…we see what doesn’t work [we must] make sure everything is backed up by evidence…we must never normalise this behaviour.”
Whether we agree with him or not as a democratically elected official, Trump may be around for at least another 3 years 11 months (definitely not counting) so all we can do is stand together and stand by our values.