On Monday, the 30th of January, an estimated 5,000 people gathered in Manchester’s Albert Square to demonstrate against President Trump’s executive order on immigration.
In the region of 1,000 students were at the demonstration, some opting to meet outside both the University of Manchester and the Manchester Metropolitan University Students’ Unions half an hour before the rally to attend the event together.
When asked, one said that it was important for students to get involved as they were “privileged to be educated”, and that Trump’s executive order dealt with “the moral issue of prejudice: xenophobia.” He had “had enough of sitting behind a keyboard typing”.
A British-Iranian citizen and Iranian History lecturer for the University of Manchester affected by the ban expressed concerns over the “barriers” that were being put up in regards to academic research and academic exchange, “destroying” the notions, and “depriving” everyone. “We should steer clear of these measures […] We have to stand up now.”
A range of speakers, including an NUS delegate and members from the University of Manchester Palestine Society spoke at the event. They said; “it is our duty to fight with everything we have […] In our spaces of learning and tolerance, we must do everything we can.” There were also calls for students to write motions to their student unions in solidarity with Muslims, using their “educational and outraged voice against injustice”. The NUS delegate told the crowd she was “unapologetically Muslim, Pakistani, Mancunian”.
Ron Senchank, President of the Manchester Stop the War Coalition was granted the greatest applause of the evening. “Donald Trump has come deep, deep, deep, from the very asshole of America. He’s bought with him every racist, every bigot, every anti-Semite, everybody we despise, has come out of that asshole.”
Both Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, President of Somaliland, and Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, are alumni of the University of Manchester, both serving countries affected by the ban.
Somaliland students have voiced their concerns about the ban. The Abaarso boarding school in Somaliland has become a feeder school of sorts for elite United States universities.
“I feel lucky that I’ve been accepted to an elite college in the U.S., but also sad that I might not be able to start my college education”, said Shukri Ali, a 19-year-old Abaarso student speaking to CNN, who was accepted last month to study at Wellesley College in September.
However, Ali accepted Trump’s explanation that the ban was intended to keep the United States safe. “I will not take this personally because I know I’m not a terrorist.”
A University of Manchester student from Kenya, speaking to The Mancunion, expressed a similar sentiment. He applauded Trump for being “selfish towards his own country.” Admitting the policy was a harsh way to deal with Islamic terrorism, he stated “do you think this sort of thing can be done politely?’
Although Trump was the rally’s main target (referred to as an “orange, backward-looking, thick-skinned narcissist”, “he who shall not be named”, as well as subject to chants such as “you can’t build a wall, your hands are too small”), May was also targeted. Signs featured a picture of Trump and May with the caption, “The Undateables”; another read “Shame on Theresa — the fascist appeaser”.
Theresa May has rejected calls to withdraw Trump’s state visit invitation. Andrew Gwynne, local Labour MP for Denton and Reddish has voiced concerns over whether Trump may be invited to the Conservative Party Conference, due to be held in Manchester in October.
MPs will discuss whether Trump should receive a state visit at a Westminster Hall debate on the 20th of February following an official petition receiving over 1,800,000 signatures at the time of writing. 100,000 signatures are required to merit a government response.
Watch Fuse TV’s video from the march here.
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