Trump rally

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An anti-Trump rally in Oban last week has attracted criticism and support from local residents.

The ‘Argyll against Trump’ rally, demanding President Donald Trump end his ‘Muslim travel ban’ and the UK Government cancels Mr Trump’s state visit, was held in Stafford Street last Thursday.

Around 20 protestors gathered in the rain, responding to a Facebook page posted by Oban resident William Mohieddeen, a 30-year-old student engagement assistant for the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association.

Explaining his motivation, Mr Mohieddeen wrote: ‘US President Donald Trump has moved quickly to enact a violent, racist and misogynistic course for Government… and the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, is fully behind him.

‘Trump has expressed publicly his support for torture and has signed executive orders attacking the rights of women, building a border wall with Mexico and banning the entry of Muslims to the US.

‘This has not fazed Theresa May who continues to roll out red carpet to Trump, appeasing his violently, bigoted actions, in a panic over the Tory Government’s shambolic preparations to leave the EU.

‘This is not ordinary times – it’s important that around the country, as around the world, people who share the values of human understanding, friendship, care and solidarity express their opposition to Trump’s actions.’

On the night protesters were invited to speak. Oban councillor Kieron Green began: ‘Trump is against everything we stand for in the town. We are open to visitors. We as a society cannot support him.’

Councillor Elaine Robertson added: ‘This is absolutely horrific. It breeds hatred and contempt of democracy. I am very worried for the people it affects.’

Another protester, Alastair MacGregor, said: ‘If America calls itself the leader of the free world, it should look at itself in the mirror and cry.’

Councillor Roddy McCuish began by quoting an inscription on the Statue of Liberty, saying: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’, and argued: ‘The credibility of this country is far more important than any trade deal. Some say it will not affect anyone in Oban. It affects us all.’

The rally drew an angry reaction from one passer-by, who began shouting and swearing. ‘What is your problem against Trump?’ he asked. ‘You tell me how Kuwait has barred five countries. You are full of s***.’

One protester Mairi Stones engaged the man in conversation and said afterwards: ‘He was starting to get aggressive. I do not think it was the way forward to meet aggression with aggression. That guy is scared.’

The rally drew criticism on Facebook, as ‘factually incorrect’, ‘a total joke’, ‘a wind-up’, and ‘pointless’. One posted: ‘Unbelievable the people in Oban can organise a protest in Oban about an American non-issue, but our streets are in darkness, and our bins are over-flowing and they do nothing?

Another wrote: ‘Protest about massive local authority cuts in funding. Protest about massive cuts to NHS. Protest about under-funding for our schools. Protest about higher tax for Scottish wage earners. Protest about council tax rises. Why protest about the democratically-elected President of USA in GB? Get our own country sorted before we interfere with the rest of the world.’

However, others supported its stance against ‘Cheeto Mussolini’. One wrote: ‘So sad that the bigger picture can’t be seen. Wow, let’s all worry about our litter and just be grateful that we are not being threatened with murder and rape on a daily basis and can’t actually escape. Oh to be white and born in Oban, let’s forget the rest of the world.’

Another, in irony, called it ‘a waste of time’: ‘Don’t these people know that nothing America does effects Oban? After all, Scotland has its own climate and economy, and there’s no chance that any American war would have any effect on Scotland. It isn’t like a sea level rise in the Arctic would impact on our coast or something.’

One, confused, wondered: ‘Where’s Oban?’