Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban: Protests, Demonstration
and Debate in the UK Parliament
Dr. Mozammel Haque
As I have mentioned in my previous article, the reaction and response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban in the United Kingdom will be dealt with in the next write-up. In this paper, I will narrate the protests and demonstrations against Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban in the UK as well as the Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom which was debated in the British parliament.
In the United Kingdom, public celebrities openly condemned Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration ban; people and political leaders angry at Donald Trump’s Travel ban came out on the street, protested against the ban and organised demonstration in front of 10 Downing Street.
Sir Mo Farah and Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP
Nazia Parveen and Sean Ingle reported in The Guardian on Sunday, 29 January 2017 about the personal reaction and response of some of the British celebrity to the Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. Sir Mo Farah, one of Britain’s most successful Olympians spoke out. Sir Mo Farah condemned Donald Trump’s decision to ban US arrivals from a series of predominantly Muslim countries in simple terms. In a riposte to Trump, Farah said: “I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the president has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice. (The Guardian on Sunday, 29 January 2017)
Sir Farah also contrasted his treatment from the Queen, who recently gave him a knighthood, with that of Trump, saying: “On 1 January this year, Her Majesty the Queen made me a knight of the realm. On 27 January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.” Sir Farah is a British citizen with a British passport, born in Somalia, reported in The Guardian.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi
Another British Celebrity and Conservative politician said he felt discriminated. Speaking to Andrew Marr, BBC, Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said he felt discriminated against for the first time since his school days. The Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad, said he felt “demeaned and discriminated against” by Trump’s border edict. Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “I don’t think I have felt discriminated since little school when the kids were very cruel, as a young boy coming from Iraq of Kurdish origin. For the first time in my life last night I felt discriminated against. It’s demeaning, it’s sad.” Reported in The Guardian.
Politicians and Political leaders
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, have all called for the visit to be cancelled.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has condemned Donald Trump’s ban on people from certain countries entering the United States as “shameful and cruel”. He said: “President Trump's ban on refugees and immigrants from certain countries is shameful and cruel. “The USA has a proud history of welcoming and resettling refugees. The President can't just turn his back on this global crisis - all countries need to play their part,” reported in The Independent online and added, “While every country has the right to set its own immigration policies, this new policy flies in the face of the values of freedom and tolerance that the USA was built upon,” he said and added, “As a nation that, like the USA, values tolerance, diversity and freedom, we cannot just shrug our shoulders and say: 'It's not our problem'.” (The Independent online, 29th of January, 2017)
Mr Khan’s comments came as mass demonstrations broke out across the US in protest at the anti-immigration policy.
It is also reported that Former cabinet minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi urged ministers to refer to Mr Trump’s immigration policy as a “Muslim ban”, arguing there could be no doubt that is what it is. Baroness Warsi also said: “Those who run and govern this country bowing down to a man who holds the views that he holds, values which are not the same as British values, I think is sending out a very wrong signal.” Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she went on: “[State visits] are an honour of the highest order that a country can bestow on a visiting dignitary, it’s lots of pomp and ceremony, banquets and gifts and welcome and flattering speeches and all at the cost of the British tax payer. (The Independent online, 29th of January, 2017)
“We have to question whether in Britain, this is something Britain should be doing for a man who has no respect for women, disdain for minorities, little value for LGBT communities, no compassion clearly for the vulnerable and whose policies are rooted in divisive rhetoric,” she said.
It follows calls from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other Tories to cancel the trip, not to mention an official petition that has soared past one million signatures.
Political commentator Owen Jones has organised a London protest on Monday evening outside Downing Street.
Thousands of people gathered across the UK to protest against Trump’s travel ban and his planned UK state visit. About 10,000 people were thought to have marched on Downing Street in London. Meanwhile a petition set up a matter of days ago has now exceeded one million signatures, having past the 10,000 mark requiring a government response and the 100,000 mark meaning it must be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, while answering questions in front of the Commons home affairs committee on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, has strengthened UK criticism of move, saying it is divisive and wrong, but MPs question delay in airing concerns, reported by Alan Travis, in The Guardian.. The home secretary has strengthened Britain’s criticism of Donald Trump’s travel ban, branding it “a potential propaganda opportunity” for so-called Islamic State. .
Giving evidence before the home affairs select committee, Amber Rudd agreed that most attacks in the US, Britain and Europe had been carried out by domestic terrorists in the most recent years and said that Isis would “use every opportunity” to radicalise people. Rudd also said: “I think the important thing is for the government to state that we disagree with the ban and we have said it is divisive. It is wrong. I will continue to say that.” (Reported by Alan Travis, in The Guardian, 31 January, 2017)
Trump’s visit to the UK and the public demand
Demand for cancellation of Trump’s invitation
Political leaders came out demanding the government to cancel Donald Trump’s invitation. With both Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, calling on Theresa May to cancel Trump’s planned state visit to Britain if he does not rescind the ban.
Corbyn told the Guardian that May would be “failing the British people” if she did not call off the visit by Trump, planned for the summer. Davidson said state visits were designed “to celebrate and entrench the friendships and shared values between their respective countries”. She said: “A state visit from the current president of the United States could not possibly occur in the best traditions of the enterprise while a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place. “I hope President Trump immediately reconsiders his Muslim ban.” London Mayor sadiq Khan, Baroness Warsi and other politicians also joined in this demand.
Even there was a public protest which passed million signatures.
20 February 2017 was set as the date for MPs to debate a petition against Trump’s visit that has garnered 1.6m signatures. MPs unanimously passed a motion condemning the “Discriminatory, divisive and counterproductive” travel ban. The emergency debate was called by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad and risked being banned from the US. (Reported in The Guardian, 31st January 2017)