Scotland Against Trump
31st January 2017
A massive demo in Edinburgh last night showed solidarity with people being persecuted for their religious beliefs in America and welcomed refugees to Scotland. Similar protests were seen in Kirkwall, Dundee, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow and are just the start of a campaign to resist the rise of the far-right and ‘shut the country down’ when Trump arrives for a state visit. This was an impressive show of force for an event organised in 48 hours to get 10,000 people on the streets of the capital. It shows the latent strength of the (much maligned) Scottish left, the power of social media as an organising tool, and the energy hope and positivity of young people who dominated the protest.
The Scotsman managed two paragraphs coverage. The speakers included:
Shuwanna Aaron, NUS BAME officer
Rhea Wolfson, Labour NEC member
Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens co-convener
Assad Khan, Edinburgh University Islamic Society
Pinar Aksu, Refugee Rights Activist
Deborah Kayembe, Human Rights Lawyer
Jonathon Shafi, Scotland Against Trump
Ben McPherson, SNP MSP
Organiser Jonathon Shafi said: “This demonstration is about putting a line in the sand over the Muslim ban. We will not stop fighting until it is repealed, and until Trump is stopped from entering the UK. We want a complete break from the Trump regime – we want to end the so called special relationship. We are going to be tough on Trump, and tough on the causes of Trump. We need to question the nature of the society that produces such monsters. We need a new economy, and a new democracy. We are going to build a new type of special relationship from below, one that links the movement of opposition here and in the US and beyond.”
Refugee rights activist Pinar Aksu said: “I am inspired to see so many of you here. This is just the start of our fight back against Trump. We are brothers and sisters regardless of our colour or background. We cannot be diverse, and we will not give into fear”
Kirsty Haigh, an organiser of the Edinburgh Scotland Against Trump demonstration said: “Trump is trying to create a new normal where racism and bigotry are accepted as part of everyday life. It’s encouraging that thousands of people are willing to come out, take a stand and say this will not be our normal. Our demonstration is one of dozens taking place across the UK. There is a growing international movement, and Scotland will be part of it.”
Scotland Against Trump now plans a protest on 11 February to march from the Tory HQ in Edinburgh and shut down the American Embassy. This is the start of a resistance to racism and the normalisation of fascism in power. It articulates the values and solidarity of a new Scotland and aspires to humanity and decency in public life. It is explicitly anti-fascist and rejects the sanctification of Trump and everything he represents by the British State.
The dissembling and talk of a ‘downgraded visit’ by the British Government today will make no difference. They have just twigged they have created a massive pr problem for the Queen, a security nightmare and the opportunity for a huge protest against the far-right and the monarchy rolled into one. The global backlash against Trump’s presidency is going to be huge and unifying. If this is what can be organised in a couple of days the protests when he arrives will be unprecedented.
Those who argue that the protestors are young or naive are right – they are. But there is nothing wrong with being young and naive. There is nothing wrong with disgust. Trump is a unifying force and as it becomes clearer the relationship between Brexit and the ‘special relationship’ the protest against the new right will grow and feed into the movement for self-determination for democracy and for solidarity.