US Muslim and Refugee Ban Protest in London
On Saturday, Luke and I boarded a train to London and caught a tube to Marble Arch, before joining the thousands of people piling in to Grosvenor Square. Politics isn't something I've talked about on my blog, or even mentioned, until very recently. Whilst I've always been tuned in to what is going on around me, voting in every election since being of voting age and engaging in conversations here and there, I haven't been involved to the extent where I actually use my voice in other ways. When it comes to divisive topics, I often stay quiet; keeping myself to myself rather than do something to upset the apple-cart. Yet more recently, as I've seen decisions made in the UK and across the pond I can't even begin to fathom, I am finding it increasingly more difficult to keep my mouth shut.
The march on February 4th protested Trump's banning of anyone from several Muslim majority countries travelling to and entering America, as well as his halting of the US Refugee programme, and was organised by the
Stop the War Coalition
Stand Up to Racism
Muslim Association of Britain
groups. Starting off in front of the US Embassy building, the crowds listened on as individuals and representatives from multiple organisations delivered speeches with raw passion, condemning both the actions of Donald Trump and Theresa May's 'special relationship' with him. There were retellings of recent events (such as Mo Farah's exclusion from the US), calls to action and even brutally honest poetry to remind the crowds of exactly why we were all there; to show that love trumps hate.
Before February 4th, I'd never taken part in a protest or marched before. It was overwhelming to be part of something so huge; to hear the roar of the crowd as they cheered and booed in agreement, and listen to an array of chants bellowed in unison, was just something else. Coming together with people of all ages, genders, races, sexual orientations, religions, and from all walks of life, in a show of solidarity was really quite something to behold. Walking along, side by side with strangers, all of us shouting and chanting at the top of our lungs ("You can't build a wall, your hands are too small" was one of my favourites) to a chorus of banging drums and whistles was truly awe-inspiring. Even the occasions in which everyone started whooping, in order to make as much noise as possible, sent goosebumps shooting across my arms.
Rounding off in Parliament Square, the crowds came to a standstill to listen to speakers praise the march and call for further action of the same stature. I applaud everyone who came together, and thank the march's organisers for creating a safe space for frustrations to be shown and voices to be heard. A single voice may seem insignificant on its own, but when it is reiterated by 40,000 other people, it's easy to see that you are part of something far greater than one man and his evil plans. This march was about standing with the Muslim community, letting refugees know that they aren't alone, raising others up, as well as to let the UK Government and President of the United States know that we are not happy, and that what they are doing is not okay.
We will not be complicit through silence. We will stand together and be part of history instead.