Thousands plan to protest Trump’s UK visit
55,000 people to participate in ‘Carnival of Resistance’ march against US president’s upcoming three-day visit.
More than 55,000 people are expected to descend on Central London to protest US President Donald Trump‘s controversial three-day visit to the UK next week.
Demonstrators have promised to oppose Trump’s visit with a “Carnival of Resistance” on Friday, July 13, which will see Britons and minority ethnic groups uniting against what they have branded his “racist” and “fascist” policies.
Al Jazeera spoke to a wide range of protesters to pin down their reasons for marching.
Shamiul Joarder, Head of Public Affairs at pro-Palestinian campaign group Friends of Al Aqsa, told Al Jazeera the march is necessary to stop the president from “legitimising hatred, Islamophobia and anti-Palestine policies”.
“We feel that Donald Trump’s presidency is led by Islamophobic hatred, it’s led by his anti-Palestine policies and that obviously affects Muslim communities not just in America and the Middle East, but around the world, and it’s affecting us here,” Joarder said.
Trump risked a geopolitical earthquake in December when he broke with seven years of US foreign diplomacy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was followed by his highly controversial decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Both Palestinians and Israelis claim the latter as their capital, though neither claim has been recognised internationally.
While Israel claims the entirety of Jerusalem as its capital, Palestinian leaders have long been calling for a Palestinian state with occupied East Jerusalem as the capital.
The new embassy was opened as scores of Palestinians were killed in the nearby besieged Gaza Strip during the Great March of Return.
Israeli forces have killed at least 135 people since the protest kicked off on March 30. Israel has been accused of breaching international law by using live fire against largely unarmed protesters.
“We want to make the link between what Trump is doing in America and essentially what our government policies here are doing,” Joarder said.
“We had, for example, the Great March of Return – our government was silent, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu came just on the back of that,” he added.
Shaima Dallali, 23 and president of the Palestinian society at City University, London, told Al Jazeera: “For me, it’s very important to go to the protest and say, ‘You know what, this is not acceptable, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and just because one of the biggest power countries in the world doesn’t realise it, it doesn’t justify it. It doesn’t mean that it’s OK, and or that other countries can follow suit.”
Although Trump has been denied the full pomp of a state visit, he is still expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, as well as Prime Minister Theresa May, who invited him to the UK shortly after he was sworn in as the 43rd US president in January 2017.
While some protesters hope May will use the opportunity to call the US president out over his controversial policies, others struggle to believe the Tory leader has the backbone to do so.
Graeme Hendry, 49 and from Brighton, said he will be attending the protest because it is “vital” people stand up to the rise of the far right, adding that opposing Trump would be a “no-brainer for any sane human being”.
“Trump represents the true face of global capitalism, stripped of its camouflage,” Hendry told Al Jazeera.
“While he struts the world stage like an infantile bully, the democratic rights and freedoms of the American population are quietly being dismantled, world war is a real risk and climate change is accelerating,” he added.
Hendry said he had little faith in the UK leader holding Trump to account.
“May has one eye on post-Brexit trade deals with the US so has, in no way, robustly opposed his excesses.”
“Although one would hope May would use the opportunity to rein him in, she, too, is an advocate of the same economic system that Trump personifies. Added to that is the fact that May is, in effect, powerless and is no more than a US poodle,” Hendry said.
Trump’s first year in power has seen him row back on LGBT rights. He has, among other moves, put a ban on transgender military service and has failed to recognize Pride Month.
Jack The Lad, an Asian drag king who lives in Manchester, England, told Al Jazeera how he feels doubly targeted by the president’s policies as a member of the Queer People Of Colour (QPOC) community.
“As a QPOC, the first thing people see is the colour of my skin, second is their version of my gender, third is sexuality.
“Trump makes all of these far more into existence and also, reasons to hate me. So, yes, I am LGBT, but primarily, it’s my skin he sees – which he creates fear-mongering from,” he said.
“As an LGBT voice, I say that his approval of Mississippi being permitted to democratically refuse to serve LGBT people and make it a crime to be LGBT, his allowance to refuse trans people to serve in the army, and his utter and complete fascist rhetoric … makes him a frightening new Hitler. Unless you are white, male and heteronormative … you’re next.”
Trump’s incendiary rhetoric also dealt a blow to the disabled people’s community after he mocked a reporter with disabilities. Trump made an impression of New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital joint condition, in November 2015.
Kim Bowler, a British Australian who was left with a spinal cord injury after being hit by a drunk driver, branded the Trump’s act as “inappropriate” given his status, as well as “disrespectful and childish.”
“What makes the Trump performance so hurtful is that he represents the opinions and looks after the welfare of people who can’t always look after themselves or speak up for themselves,” the 43-year-old told Al Jazeera.
“This is a dangerous space to wander into as it again displays what could be perceived to be acceptable when it absolutely isn’t.”