"The highest form of education is tolerance." - Helen Keller. Anti-Trump protesters in London's Parliament Square.
This photo was taken in London's Parliament Square on Monday 20 February 2017 during a protest against the proposed state visit of American president Donald Trump to Britain.
Thousands of protesters armed with placards filled most of the square as British MPs debated president Trump's visit in the House of Commons. They were rallying to demand that the government repudiate his shameful racist, sexist and imperialist policies and revoke his state invitation as a guest of the Queen. Many also expressed the wish that the British government itself should do far more to help desparate refugees and ease the conditions within the UK for asylum seekers .
1.8 million people have already signed an online petition asking the government to rescind the offer of a state visit. Labour MP Paul Flynn condemned it as “terribly wrong” and the speaker of the British parliament John Bercow had already stated his view that if he was allowed to address parliament we would be effectively endorsing his extremely divisive views on women and Muslims.
In contrast Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan was defiant arguing that Britain should "use all the tools at its disposal to build common ground" with America's extreme right wing president who, if invited on a state visit, would only be the third US president to be so honoured since 1952.
Former Foreign Secretary, William Hague, couldn't understand the fuss. The queen was, he argued in the Daily Telegraph, used to meeting some of the world's bloodiest tyrants, "such as presidents Mobutu of Zaire and Caeucescu of Romania" and seemed to imply there was no need to improve our ethical standards now.
By 6 pm approximately five thousand angry protesters had gathered and the police had to close part of the square to traffic.
Among the most frequent chants heard were "May shame on you", "dump Trump", "build bridges not walls" and "refugees are welcome here". However for the most part people quietly listened to the speakers who included Owen Jones, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Labour MP Naz Shah, the SNP's Carol Monaghan and Shadow home secretary Diane Abbot who told the crowd that Trump
"was supported in his presidential campaign by white supremacists. Even in the first weeks of his presidency, he had had a visceral anti-immigrant line.We hear that he has been invited for state visit. Whatever you think, a state visit is meant to be an honour. I would say that Donald Trump has done nothing to be honoured for."
Owen Jones called for continued solidarity with immigrants and refugees and was optimistic tolerance would win out over bigotry
"The racists and the fascists have been defeated before," he told the crowd, "and we will defeat them again".
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