Hundreds marched through Edinburgh on Saturday (4 February" in protest at Donald Trump's executive order blocking immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries - in effect a Muslim ban. The demonstration assembled on the High Street and marched along the Royal Mile to a rally outside the Scottish Parliament. It was called by Celia Gonzalez, an American student living in Glasgow, and was supported by SACC, MWAE (Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh), SPSC (Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) and Stand Up to Racism Scotland.
Addressing the rally outside the Scottish Parliament, Celia Gonzalez said:
"After the election I was pretty much just completely paralysed and ashamed of my country. I spent months not knowing what to do. Then on Saturday I read about the Muslim ban – the travel ban. Every post made me more angry. Something inside me flipped and I created this event. Looking out today, this is incredible and I’m so proud of my adopted country.
Then when I saw the American protestors turning out in droves and the lawyers working pro bono, literally sitting on the airport floors, I was so proud of my home country. That is who America is."
Recalling the growth of anti-semitism in Germany in the 1930s, she said that after Kristallnacht in November 1938 the rest of the began to realise the threat that the Nazis posed, but that most countries still refused to accept Jewish refugees.
"If you grew up Jewish, like I did, you would have learned about this probably every year, at Yom HaShoah, but if it sounds especially familiar today it should. The day after the US election was the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht. In that one day, there were over 200 documented reports of hate crimes and hate speech. Many of them were directed against immigrants and Muslims.
Mosques were defaced, Muslims were threatened and assaulted, and children were called terrorists and told they would be deported. And now Trump has closed America’s borders to 7 Muslim-majority countries, even though not a single death on American soil could be attributed to refugees or immigrants from any of them.
Something else happened in 1939. A British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton started working to rescue Jewish children. In most cases he had to convince complete strangers to foster these children. By the time war broke out he had saved nearly 700 children from almost certain death. He is remembered as a hero because he saw the warning signs of fascism and he refused to sit back and accept it, he refused to give Hitler a chance like we have been implored by the right to do for Trump since the beginning."
Mick Napier, speaking for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:
"On our own we are dissenters, as part of a collective we are resisters. Be part of the collective."
Safeena Rashid, representing MWAE, said:
"We want Trump to pack his bags and leave, because what he has done is he’s turned this world into a circus. Circus it is not, and we’re not going to silently accept this behaviour.
We are going to stand up for our rights, and we are going to stand up for the rights of other people as well. At the Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh, we have been working for more than a decade now, fighting for people’s rights, fighting for community cohesion, fighting for social inclusion, fighting for justice. We’re not going to let somebody like Trump terrorise us. We’re not going to let somebody like Trump ruin all the hard work that we have been doing. We are going to stand up to the likes of Trump and we’re going to show Trump that this is absolutely unacceptable."
Richard Haley (SACC) said:
"Trump’s ban on immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries, his linking of Muslims to terrorism not in the sneaky way our government does but shamelessly like the SDL, his completely reckless lies, these all add up to a giant step increase in racism. While this is going on, it cannot be business as usual with the USA.
That giant leap into fascistic government was made possible by the policies that went before it, and especially by the policies of the so-called “war on terror”, in fact a war for resources and real-estate.
The same sort of policies have been taking root in Britain. Islamophobic terrorism laws, the Prevent strategy, policing policies that too often treat Muslims as suspects.
There’s been a survey of 100 Edinburgh Muslim school students. It will be published in the next few weeks, I hope. 53% of the students say they’ve had experience of verbal Islamophobia. As for physical Islamophobia, 15% of secondary and 24% of primary students say they have experience of it.
We have to say: No business as usual with Trump, no complacency in Scotland."
Issa Robson, from the One Day Without us campaign, said:
"Many people do not understand why you are here today. You will be called radicals, professional anarchists and renta mob. As they try to discredited these marches, you will be called hysterical and the Daily Mail even has the cheek to tell us to calm down. But hysteria is why we are on the streets today. The hysteria of and fear of the 'other' is what we are today standing against.
We are standing against creeping racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment within the political establishment and media. We are showing our discontent to any government policy or position which panders to racists, and we are giving a show of visual support to those who will oppose them.
But most importantly this is a show of solidarity with our Muslim and refugee communities here in the UK, and with those in America and all over the world. That We will not allow the most politically expendable communities to be scapegoated and marginalised.
On the 20th Feb the One day Without Us campaign are asking you not just to love your Multicultural city, but to celebrate it with us. It’s time to show the rest of the UK what that looks like when a city rejects the politics of fear and hate and a community fully embraces it’s diversity."
Naledi Herman said:
"What I'd like to say about the anti-Trump movement in Scotland is that we have taken a huge disliking to one man, one man who has exposed the nasty side of politics that already existed under the surface. The only difference with Trump is that he's shameless about it, he says all the terrible things out loud, whereas most career politicians might not say it out loud but might act in similar ways. In some ways this dark Trumpian time also has a silver lining..... The greed and disregard for human rights that has been practiced by politicians worldwide has been exposed on a grand stage like never before and we've woken up - the left has woken up!
Yes, Trump is much more dangerous than some that we have seen, but at least people are finally angry enough to notice and oppose this injustice. A movement has begun and we are educating ourselves via the internet and are protesting in our masses! What I would like the movement to turn into isn't just a protest against one man, I would like this to be a movement that doesn't just go away, a movement that will achieve real progress if we can harness the anger and the energy and focus it on specific issues.
Most of all I want to see people remaining active in a consistent way, because there are many others like Trump who are less vocal about it and after he is gone (hopefully in a matter of months) there will be others who will replace him, but we might not notice them as much as Trump, they might be wolves in sheep's clothing. Keep that in mind and remember to keep resisting and protecting our human rights and dignity, always."
Councillor Nick Gardner and Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP also spoke in solidarity with those victimised by Donald Trump. Lord Apetsi McMensa, NUS Scotland's Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Officer, gave a powerful speech calling for unity in support of migrants and refugees, regardless of party or organisational affiliations. He finished by singing We shall overcome one day.
Alex Cole-Hamilton's young son Finn had campaigned for Lord Apetsi's freedom when Lord was in immigration detention facing imminent deportation. They met for the first time on the demo.
"While its easy to despair over the rise of fascism and xenophobia in America and elsewhere, take heart. If the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, just take a moment to look around you at all these good people who refuse to do nothing. These last few weeks have shown me that when we come together to make a stand, when we refuse to give in to hate and fear, we the people are powerful. We are stronger than those who will divide is." - Celia Gonzalez
A special thank you to Zareen Taj (MWAE) for MCing the event, to Jan Benvie (SACC) for being Chief Steward and to SPSC for their PA system.