London: Protesters tell Trump 'build bridges not walls'

  • Ellen Teague, Jo Siedlecka
  • (Updated )

Pax Christi message: 'Migrants and refugees are our brothers and sisters' - Pope Francis

Pax Christi message: 'Migrants and refugees are our brothers and sisters' - Pope Francis

Thousands have taken to the streets of cities around the UK, to protest against the visit of President Donald Trump.

In London on Friday, 13 July, an estimated 250,000 people of all ages, faiths and races, gathered outside the Houses of Parliament and All Soul's church in Langham Place for a three-hour long Together Against Trump march to a rally in Trafalgar Square, organised by CND.

One contingent contained Pax Christi members, led by General Secretary Pat Gaffney, together with members of the National Justice and Peace Network, led by Chair Anne Peacey.

Pax Christi banners included: 'Migrants and refugees are not a problem to be solved; they are our brothers and sisters' and 'Refugees welcome here'. Columban JPIC, was among those supporting, 'Build bridges not walls' - words which Pope Francis has used on several occasions were written in large letters in Trafalgar Square.

Other concerns about the Trump presidency ranged from CND with 'No Nuclear war' to several young families with banners: 'Solidarity with the separated families", a reference to the forced separation of migrant families at the US/Mexico border. Several women breastfed on the march and one toddler pointed to his tee-shirt "I would make a better president!" Some groups of women carried the message, 'Women deserve more rights than guns do'.

Sr Gemma Simmons CJ, a sister of the Congregation of Jesus, said she was there "because as a religious sister I believe in sisterhood irrespective of colour and race and Catholic teaching stands for that; Trump contradicts the heart of the Catholic Faith in his policies." She carried a banner reading: 'Nuns against Racism'.

Other Christian groups in the London march included the Christian Student Movement, London Catholic Worker, Christian CND, Quakers, Anglican Peace Fellowship and parish groups. Representatives of many other faiths also took part.

Christian protestors at Blenheim Palace on Thursday evening when the Trumps enjoyed a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May, took the theme, 'Trump not welcome, refugees are'.

Edinburgh Justice and Peace, and the Iona Community were prominent in the Glasgow march. Quakers protested in Cardiff.

The Together Against Trump demonstration, against the hate and divisiveness of Trump's agenda and its normalisation by the UK government, was one of the biggest-ever seen in the capital.

A Stop Trump Coalition spokesperson said: "It has been such an extraordinary day. This event, this carnival of resistance, has brought together seasoned activists with first time protestors and given every person here the chance to show how much we value unity and diversity in the UK. We haven't seen this many people protesting in London for over a decade when hundreds of thousands came out to oppose the Iraq war. Today people made their voices heard, not just about Trump but about the normalisation of Trump-esque policies by Theresa May.

"Every day people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea when all they're guilty of is looking for a safe haven and a dignified life. The British government has a disgraceful record on refugees and asylum seekers and we have to fight to put an end to the hostile environment in this country. We must fight the idea that immigrants are to blame for the social crisis in this country - that is the result of the conscious policy of our political and economic establishment."

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, received massive applause when he addressed the crowd in Trafalgar Square saying: "We're asserting our right to free speech and our right to demonstrate for a better world. When we divide ourselves by racism, misogyny and hate, we all lose. When we are united in hope, with common goals, we can all win."

Bruce Kent former leader of CND and Vice Chair of Pax Christi was out of town over the weekend, but commented: " The Trump visit---- were the world situation not so dangerous--was rather like a Bob Hope comic turn. Why not an invitation next to Pope Francis ? He would make much more sense."

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Tags: Trump, Donald Trump, Pax Christi, Demonstrations, Pat Gaffney, Jeremy Corbyn, Anne Peacey

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