UK Parliament Debates Trump Visit as Nation Rallies in Support of Immigrants
"In the end the point isn't whether Donald Trump gets the full-blown UK state visit treatment, it's whether we raise our voice against this disastrous rollback of rights," said Amnesty International's Kate Allen
While members of the British Parliament are debating whether or not to welcome Donald Trump with a state visit, people across the United Kingdom on Monday are taking to the streets to protest the anti-immigrant policies championed by the new U.S. president and the global far-right movement.
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"Since assuming his presidency, Trump has been responsible for some of the most dangerous and divisive policies of our times, and it's disgraceful that [U.K. Prime Minister] Theresa May would want to normalize his odious politics of hate by inviting him for a state visit," said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now.
On the eve of the Parliament debate, activists with the U.K.-based social justice organization projected the words "Say No to Trump" on the Houses of Parliament, to send, as Dearden put it, "a clear message to Theresa May that it's not acceptable for her to cozy up to a leader like Donald Trump. She has no public mandate to do that and we hope MPs are going to tell her that today."
More than 1.8 million people have signed on to a government petition saying that Trump "should not be invited to make an official State Visit," far exceeding the 100,000 signatures required to prompt a parliamentary debate.
According to BBC, "[t]he debate in Westminster Hall on Monday will be opened at 16:30 GMT (11:30am EST) by petitions committee member MP Paul Flynn, with a response by Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan for the government."
Outside the halls of power, a massive migrant solidarity rally is set to take place midday in Parliament Square with satellite protests planned in cities across the country. Dubbed One Day Without Us, the day of action is meant to highlight the role that migrants play in the UK's society and culture amid a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment and hate crimes that has coincided with the rise of far-right leaders like Trump and May.
Organizers say that participants can also show their support symbolically "by wearing badges and lanyards, posting selfies or pictures that show your support, or putting posters in their windows. Some may wish to have a communal meal or a party with the migrants they have known as friends, colleagues, workmates and neighbors. Workers may take a five-minute silence or a mini-rally at lunchtime or tea-time."
More than 10,000 people are expected at the protest in London, which is precursor to a larger march planned for Trump's visit later this year.
The Guardian reports:
Organizers said the protests, which they hope will last several days and follow Trump throughout his U.K. visit, would also "hold up a mirror to our own society" over the post-Brexit rise in hate crime and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
"Our hope is that this mass movement can swing public opinion on a range of issues in a way that progressives have never managed before, and on issues on which we have been losing for decades," the group's spokesman said.
Several of the UK's largest unions have given their backing to the march, including Unison, GMB and the National Union of Students. Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green party politicians will attend the protest on Monday and have lent their support to future demonstrations, organizers said.
"Some of our worst fears over what a Donald Trump presidency might lead to have already been realized," said Kate Allen, U.K. director of Amnesty International, which is part of the coalition backing the protests.
"In the end the point isn't whether Donald Trump gets the full-blown UK state visit treatment, it's whether we raise our voice against this disastrous rollback of rights," Allen added. "It's a major human rights fight, and one we can't afford to lose."
Images and updates on the day of action are being shared with the hashtags #1DayWithoutUs and #UKStopTrump.
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