Nov 25th, 2016, 11:43 PM

Paris Rallies Against Trump

By Tara Jamali
Image Credit: Tara Jamali
About 500 anti-Trump protestors gathered in front of the Ecole Militaire and marched towards to the Esplanade du Trocadéro.

"The People! United! Will Never Be Defeated!"

"Say It Loud! Say It Clear! Refugees Are Welcome Here!"

"Racist, Sexist, Homophobe, Donald Trump Has Got To Go!

Chants like these echoed throughout the 7th arrondissement in Paris during a protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. On Nov. 19, about 500 protestors gathered in front of the Ecole Militaire and marched towards the Eiffel Tower , crossing the Seine make their way to the Esplanade du Trocadéro. The event added Paris to the growing list of global cities — Berlin, London, Manila, Brussels, Melbourne, and Montreal — where anti-Trump protests have been organized. 

The rally was organized on Facebook by the group, Paris Against Trump, in the wake of the U.S. presidential election won by the real estate tycoon despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. The group's organizing committee is a diverse coalition of American, French, and international citizens including artists, journalists, activists, students, teachers advocating for values of diversity and inclusion which they believe are potentially threatened by a Trump administration.       

"The purpose of this peaceful march is not to contest the democratic process that led to Trump's win," said organizer Youssef Al-Mughrabi in an interview with the Associated Press. "We are marching because Donald Trump's ideology is a threat to basic human rights," added Al-Mughrabi, who is also an AUP student.

Image Credit: Tara Jamali

"I'm here because there's a rise of the far right and fascism all over the globe," said Marion from Paris. "It happens in Europe, it happens in the U.S, and it's important to mobilize people, because the next step is for it to become completely normal and acceptable. It's not normal, and that's why I'm here today."

"There's such a contrast with President Obama, who's articulate, intelligent, and a dignified human being who tried so hard to do so much for the United States," said Diane Smith, a teacher at the American School of Paris. As a Democrat, she has always been pro-choice and in favor of women, immigrants, and affordable education and health care. Trump does not represent anything she believes in, she said, adding that she will find it hard to return to the United States in the summer to see her family.

Steve Kocheran, an American living in Paris for ten years, said he cannot support anything that goes against his rights as a gay man. "I'm here because Donald Trump is not my president," he said. "I don't support a person who has lied 91 percent of the time, who's appointing the most racist, misogynistic, anti-Semite people into his cabinet. His views are un-American. I can't accept the idea that I may lose my right to be married to the person I love."

Kocheran recalled his embarrassment when Parisians, upon seeing he was American, ask what he thought about Donald Trump or what was going on in the States. For him, it is like going back to the Bush years when one had to defend one's ideas and sometimes speak negatively about his own country.  He said it upsets him to encounter Trump supporters telling him he has no right to voice his opinion because he does not live in the U.S.

"I still pay taxes, state and federal, in the United States," said Kocheran. "I have the right to vote, so I have my voice - no one can take my voice away."

Image Credit: Tara Jamali

Kate El Mahdaoui said that, as an American woman married to a Muslim man, it was important for her to join the protests and show her support in any way she can. "I'm here as an act of catharsis for myself, but also because it was the one thing I could do living here in Paris to come together and try to make my voice heard," she said. "I just think it's important to stand up against all of [Trump's] ideologies that I just don't share."

El Mahdoui voted for Hillary Clinton and donated to her campaign from Paris. After Clinton's loss, she realized that many American citizens still had trouble voting for a woman. "I think there are a lot of men who couldn't tick her name," she said. "I'm from Kansas, which is a Republican state...People sometimes don't get it, they don't receive all the information they need to be well informed and make the right choice."

She cannot explain how 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, saying she has nothing in common with them, but realizes they may have been brainwashed by the bashing of Hillary Clinton and the left in general.

Protestor Edward Reichenbach said he doesn't challenge the fact that American people had good reasons to be angry and vote against the system. He believes, however, in the importance in drawing lessons from the past in order to avoid tragedies of history.

"In 1933, the German people had good and valid reasons to be angry and want to vote against the system," said Reichenbach. "The problem is — and that's what history teaches us — is when a people are angry, it's always the big bad guys who capture their anger and lead not only the voters, but their country and the world to the abyss. I'm here today to avoid that from ever happening again." Reichenbach said he sees similarities between Trump and Hitler in 1933 when he took power in Germany. Reichenbach said the only difference was that, in 1933, people had no precedent to draw lessons from. "We do, and we must, stop it now before it's too late," he said.

Anti-Trump protest in Paris

Paul Woods, a Canadian, joined the anti-Trump rally to support his American friends and protest against racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. He shuddered while recalling how, only a couple of days after Trump's election, a rabbi in Ottawa found a swastika painted on his front door. "It's happening all over the world — it's spreading," he said. "It's normalizing when they call it the alt right. They should be called neo-Nazis because that's what it is. Alt right is not legitimizing it, but toning down what they stand for."   

Sarah Hickey, a British protestor, said Trump is a symbol of division. She opposes the marginalization of minority groups and immigrants she witnessed throughout Trump's campaign. Having lived in different countries over the years, it hits her hard to see how closed Trump is to the world.

"It's important to be here to stand up against the messages he's sending out," she said. "Even though he will fully be president soon, it's just a way to say no, we're going to be here in opposition against you." Acknowledging it has also been a tough year in her home country with Brexit, and that many of her British friends were for Europe, she said Trump's election has not tarnished her image of America. "It's good to see how people are responding against it," she said. "I think these currents have always existed in the U.S, and now they're being exposed."

Also present at the protest were representatives from the New Anticapitalist Party, a far left-French political party. "Trump is an international rogue," said party member Catherine. "What happens in the U.S has an impact in France and the rest of the world. We are very much in solidarity with the blacks, the immigrants, the minorities, all the people in the U.S." She believes the possibility of the election of Marine Le Pen, France's far right leader, is now greater because of Trump's presidency.

Saturday's protest will not be the end of resistance activity in Paris following the U.S election. Following another anti-Trump rally on Nov. 26 at Place de la République, on Dec. 2 the Librairie Résistances in the 17th arrondissement will host a debate titled "Trump à la Maison Blanche : Où vont les Etats Unis ? Où va le monde ?"