St Andrews students and residents protest US immigration ban

Hundreds of St Andrews students and Fife residents gathered Monday night to protest President Trump's ban on Muslim immigration.

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The normally quiet streets of St Andrews were interrupted Monday night when more than 300 people gathered for a rally against President Donald Trump’s recent ban on immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries.

The demonstration was organised by the St Andrews Socialist Society in response to the weekend executive orders that caused chaos at airports across the United States.

After gathering in the courtyard of the Student Union and listening to a short speech, protesters began to march through St Andrews. Chants of “refugees are welcome here” and “build bridges, not walls” echoed off the buildings as hundreds of people moved down South Street, headed towards the Main Library, and then back to the Student Union.

The official Facebook event, entitled “St Andrews Emergency Protest – Stop the Muslim Ban” had registered about 700 people as participating or interested in participating.

On why a protest was being held, Adam Strømme, a committee member of the Socialist Society said, “ The point of the march is so people can see public displays of solidarity and they know other people feel how they feel.”

The march took place on a night when larger demonstrations were organised throughout the UK. Thousands of Londoners gathered outside of 10 Downing Street to persuade Theresa May to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit, planned for later in 2017.

Though the event in St Andrews was far smaller, the sentiment remained the same.

Ollie Wright, a St Andrews student, had never attended a protest before, but said of the event, “it feels like the state of the world is getting to such a point where you have to make a statement of some sorts, even if it is just a march. I feel the same as everyone here.”

Though the event was organised by a University society, the ages of those in attendance ranged from toddlers to retirees.

“We are here to say what we think on Trump closing the border for Muslims, because if we just stop and do not respond, there’s a saying that goes, ‘Bravery is not silence.’ That is why we’re here, so we can take a stand and people can hear when we think about this,” said Martin, a primary school student who lives in Fife.

However, not everyone in attendance was there to oppose the new US administration. One man quietly looked on as he held a sign reading “Pizza Gate: Do your own research,” referring to a disproved conspiracy theory that a Washington DC restaurant owner was running a child prostitution ring frequented by members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I feel the same as Everyone Here”

While no major incidents occurred, the protest did obstruct traffic as participants crossed North Street going towards the library. Students stood in front of cars in order to allow the march to cross the road.

As the group was led away from the library, a pair of men began to yell at the protestors, blocking their path and deriding them for disturbing the town.

After about an hour of marching and chanting, the protest returned to the Union and organisers encouraged further activism on everybody’s behalf. Mr Strømme urged attendees to call their legislators and oppose the ban on Muslim immigration.

“The march is not the end of this,” he told The Saint. “There’s no real reason to believe there aren’t a number of ways you can get involved in this and make real change if you want to.”

Alex Miller contributed to this report

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