Tens of thousands in Britain protest against Trump's travel ban

Trump's immigration order has soured British Prime Minister Theresa May's attempt to show that Britain can have a "special relationship" with the world's superpower.

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban in London, Britain January 30, 2017.

Tens of thousands of people protested in London and other British cities against President Donald Trump's ban on entry to the United States by refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Thousands of people, some holding placards reading "No to Racism, No to Trump", "Dump Trump" and "I stand with Muslims", joined a protest on Monday outside the Downing Street residence of Prime Minister Theresa May, the first leader to visit President Trump.

Some chanted "Shame on May" for her offer to Trump of a visit to Britain while 1.5 million people signed a petition calling for Trump's planned trip - which will involve lavish displays of royal pageantry and a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth - to be canceled.

"It's a lot worse under Trump than I was expecting, because it's only been 10 days but he's changed so much already," Rawnak Jassm, a 23-year-old British-Iraqi, who joined the protest, told Reuters. "It's pretty scary."

Trump's immigration order, which was signed just hours after his meeting with the British prime minister in Washington, has soured May's attempt to show that post-Brexit vote Britain can have a "special relationship" with the world's superpower.

Some British voters, including thousands on protests across Britain, have expressed concern that May has failed to criticize Trump sufficiently for his temporary ban on travel to the United States by people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

While the protests in Britain were smaller than those in the United States, they illustrate how Trump's first days in office have had a sometimes unexpected impact on politics across the world, even in some close allies such as Britain.

Trump said the new controls were aimed at securing the United States by keeping out radical Islamic terrorists, but protesters in Britain said the measures were racist and anti-Muslim. Trump has denied the measures are anti-Muslim.

"THERESA THE APPEASER"?

Jassm, on the protest outside Downing Street, expressed anger at May's lack of criticism of Trump and urged the prime minister to stand up for the rights of all people.

"We have to campaign and make sure May stands up for the rights of everyone everywhere," said Jassm, who is a project manager in local government.

May's attempt to court Trump, who hailed Britain's June 23 vote to leave the European Union as a "wonderful thing", came in for particular criticism with some saying Britain was now in a weaker position after the Brexit vote.

"With Brexit, they have to go around the world, cap in hand," said Rhys Edwards, a 29-year-old art consultant who attended the London protest.

One picture of May at the protest was adorned with the words: "The lady don't protest enough". Another read: "Theresa the Appeaser".

May, who wants to control immigration from the EU after Brexit, said on Monday that Britain has a different approach to immigration but that the United States was a close ally and that the invitation to Trump stood.

"The United States is a close ally of the United Kingdom, we work together across many areas of mutual interest and we have that special relationship between us," May said. "I have formally issued that invitation to President Trump and that invitation stands."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.