Read about what our amazing volunteer Luke Campbell has to say regarding Trump's actions
On Friday 27th January, US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order barring citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the US. Executive Orders are a form of fast tracked, short term legislation derived from Article II of the US Constitution that bypass the USA’s checks and balances system, as well as often being signed off without input from the US Justice Department or homeland security agencies. The Executive Order came into immediate effect, with people landing at airports around the country being prevented or delayed from leaving the building, and at times deported on return flights. In the immediate aftermath, thousands of protesters banned together at US airports, and lawyers pitched up at fast food restaurant tables to offer free legal aid to those left stranded. The ban will primarily affect Muslim citizens, with each of the seven countries boasting a Muslim majority population. Banning an individual or group of individuals from entering the US based on their religion has been heavily criticised by many as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘a violation of human rights’.
Under this Order, one of six signed off by Trump in his first seven days in office, citizens with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, cannot enter the US for the next 90 days, however the ban on Syrians is as yet for an undetermined period of time. The USA’s refugee resettlement programme has also been suspended for 120 days, regardless of where the individual is arriving from and with little concern for the consequences or fate of the individual once they have been turned away. In 2016, the PEW Research Center noted that in the last fifteen years only ‘32% (of refugees to the US) have been Muslim’, with a majority of these people arriving from Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Burma, and Afghanistan. The US Customs & Border Patrol have stated that arrives will be “treated according to the travel document they present”, meaning that travellers holding dual nationality should present their passport from a country which is not named in the executive order.
Within minutes of the official announcement of Donald Trump’s Executive Order, activists throughout Scotland, the UK, and further afield, set about making plans to raise their voices in protest at its discriminatory and largely Islamophobic nature. An online UK Government and Parliament petition (created by a Graham Guest) calling for Trump’s proposed State Visit to the UK to be cancelled, garnered more than a 1.4 million signatures within less than two days (1.7 million at the time of writing). Whilst Guest’s petition suggested that a visit would ‘cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen’, the sentiment was felt by monarchists and republicans alike. Petitions raised through these official channels dictate that ‘Government responds to all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures’, and that the ‘(UK) Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate’.
In Scotland, thousands attended protests on Monday 30th January, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, St. Andrew, etc. with hundreds more activists and well wishers from around the world flooding the protests’ Facebook event pages, sending their apologies in light of work and care commitments, noting their support for those attending, and voicing their solidarity with those affected by the Order. Yet more posted their support on Twitter utilising the #BanTrump and #MuslimBan. With UK Prime Minister Theresa May having undertaken an official State Visit to the US earlier in the week, many protesters were heavily critical that she had not publically criticised Trump during her joint press conference with the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, rather May responded by stressing that the “United States is a close ally of the United Kingdom”.
The Edinburgh protest gathered at the Foot of the Mound, where speakers including Assad Khan (Edinburgh University Islamic Society), Scottish Green Party Co-Convenor Maggie Chapman, Deborah Kayembe (Human Rights Lawyer), Shuwanna Aaron (NUS Scotland Black Students’ Officer), and Johnathon Shafi (Scotland Against Trump) spoke out against the Order. The thousands of protesters, numbering between 5,000 and 7,000 based on different sources, proceeded to march along Princes Street, passed Waverly Station, and then down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament.