By AnnMarie Welser and Janie Matthews
(EurActiv) — A diverse crowd gathered in the freezing rain on Monday afternoon (30 January) at the Bourse, the Brussels Stock Exchange, to protest US President Trump’s Muslim ban.
An estimated 300 people stood in front, the same location where vigils were held after the 22 March attacks last year, peacefully chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, that fascist bastard’s got to go.”
Many protestors called for a change in EU policies regarding immigration and refugees.
Several Americans took the stage to voice their opposition to the new administration. One American even apologised on behalf of everyone who voted for him.
“Like most Americans, I did not vote for that thing in the White House,” she said.
The protest was organised in response to the ban by S&D Delegation Secretary Stijn Croes in under 24 hours. Several similar protests have popped up across the US— and the world.
Anton Schuurmans, a 28-year-old Belgian policy advisor, organised the protest with Croes.
“In cities, especially Brussels, the second most diverse city in the world, a migrant city, we stand in solidarity with all the people in the United States. Religion and ethical background may not be of any importance, as long as you want to build up a country together,” Schuurmans said.
“Not building walls, but bridges, between people— that’s the most important thing.”
Joseph Ngongo, an 18-year-old Belgian student, said the EU needs to change its immigration policies as much as the US does.
“We had 5,000 people die in the Mediterranean last year. I think that it’s easy to look to the US and say they’re racist, but here in Europe we have a lot of racist policies. We must put an end to that,” Ngongo stated.