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Pushing back against the politics of Trump

Wednesday 8th February 2017

We asked people at last night's No Ban, No Wall rally why they protest. 

About 1000 people protested Trump's executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim majority countries.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

“Trump’s going to be devastated when he finds out about this protest coming out of Auckland,” a white male writes on the Facebook page of an anti-Trump protest.  

It’s the kind of rhetoric that’s not uncommon on social media surrounding protests against Trump’s America. What’s the point? We’re in New Zealand. Who even cares?

Despite this attitude from some, an estimated 1000 people turned out to Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday evening to stand in solidarity against President Donald Trump’s executive order which has banned people from seven majority Muslim countries from travelling into the United States for 90 days, and put a 120 day hold on the country’s refugee programme.

"It’s great to see people here from all walks of life."

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

Niamh O’Flynn said 'protectors' were at the rally to help create a barrier between Trump supporters and those more vulnerable to anti-Islamic rhetoric.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

This man, one of about six Trump supporters at the anti-Trump rally, chose to wear a 'right wing death squad' t-shirt.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

Strangers in a Strange Band saxophonist Kate Riegle says music is a great way to peacefully protest.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

A group of about six male Trump supporters, one bearing a megaphone and another carrying a bluetooth speaker, was kept away from the main rally by a line of eight police.

A brass band sporadically burst into song, drowning out their anti-Islam rhetoric, while people wearing "protector" sashes ensured those vulnerable to hate speech were ok. 

***

'IT WILL ONLY ESCALATE FROM HERE'

Iran-born New Zealander Golriz Ghahraman says Trump’s rhetoric of persecution and his singling out of people based on race and religion will get worse if nothing is done to counter it.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

“The main impact that Trump has here is making this dehumanising rhetoric ok,” says Golriz Ghahraman.

“This protest counters that.”

Born in Iran, Ghahraman was nine when her family fled political persecution and sought refuge in New Zealand. She has gone on to study law, and has worked for the United Nations on trials of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Criminal tribunal for Rwanda.

“My work has been about this kind of abuse of power and where it leads. This is that time in history,” she said.

Ghahraman said Trump’s rhetoric of persecution, his singling out of people based on race and religion would only escalate.

'WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THEY ARE WELCOME'

A large crowd gathered in Aotea Square last night to protest Donald Trump's presidency and to support the Muslim community.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

Sina Brown-Davis of the Pacific Panthers said it was important that Muslims felt safe and welcome in a time when Islamophobia was being promoted in the west.

“It’s important as Māori and as tangata whenua that we make sure Muslims know they are welcome here. They aren’t the ones who stole our land and murdered our people,” she said.

“It’s great to see people here from all walks of life. Many of these people had no choice about making New Zealand their home.”

'IT SHOWS THAT PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS WRONG'

Terata Hikairo says Trump’s rhetoric is normalising Islamophobia

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

Terata Hikairo says Islamophobia at the heart of Trump’s ban.

“We have a Texas mosque burnt down, we have an attack on a mosque in Canada by a white supremacist which left six people dead, we are seeing women having their burqas torn off. Trump’s rhetoric is normalising Islamophobia, it makes it OK for these people to come and shout down peaceful protesters,” he said.

“To see this large group of people here in Aotea Square, it shows that people know that this is wrong, and that is heartening.”

'WE ARE NOT ALONE'

A diverse crowd gathered to protest Trump's presidency.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

Indonesian couple Hakim and Prima said they were so grateful to see people gathering in the square expressing empathy. “I feel like there is strong support for us and we are not alone,” Hakim said.  

“I can’t believe Trump is now the most powerful person in the world … He has opened the way for people to express racism."

'INCREASINGLY, I HAVE BECOME MORE FEARFUL'

Anti-Trump protesters at Aotea Square last night.

Photo: Luke McPake / The Wireless

One of the speakers, Nisha, told RNZ she worried it was becoming more unsafe to be a migrant in New Zealand.

She feared for her safety after one of the main organisers of the rally was assaulted as she handed out flyers for the protest on the street.

"She was held up against the wall by her neck, her tooth was chipped and she needed stitches on her gum. Slurs were yelled at her and she was told to go back to her country."

The woman, originally from Pakistan, was too shaken up by her attack to speak to RNZ.

Nisha, who moved to New Zealand from Sri Lanka 13 years ago, said she felt racism towards migrants had worsened with the rise of Donald Trump in US politics.

"I'm sure that this has always existed but it's just come to the forefront of my attention... increasingly I have become more fearful," she said.



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Susan Strongman is an Auckland-based journalist at The Wireless. She is interested in social issues, human rights and people, but likes to spend her spare time with her cats.
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