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'It could happen here too': Stockholmers protest Trump's travel ban

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'It could happen here too': Stockholmers protest Trump's travel ban
Protestors at a demonstration against the US travel ban in Stockholm. Photo: Tilly Olsson
15:27 CET+01:00
The turnout was lower than hoped, but hundreds still took to the streets of Stockholm to protest Donald Trump's controversial travel ban. The Local contributor Tilly Olsson asked them why.

The demonstration took place at Norrmalmstorg on February 4th, the same location as the Women's March just two weeks prior. Similar demonstrations against Trump's executive order banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for at least 90 days have unfolded globally, from the United States to London and Indonesia.

The Stockholm event was put together by an organization called "Anti-Trump Sweden" to give Stockholmers disappointed with the ban the opportunity to speak out. 

"I am here to show that it's not okay to ban people from entering countries just because of their ethnicity or their religion," Deniz Kilic says passionately.

"I am Muslim myself so this is important to me, personally. This is about people who share the same faith as me."

Malin Gamst, 23, argues that: "We need to stand up for humanity and not just the white people currently being listened to and setting standards. People of colour, trans-people, women: all need to be equal".

Giulia Armiero, 17, says that the travel ban is not just un-American, but also unconstitutional, an opinion shared by a federal judge in Seattle who halted the order:

"Of course it's unconstitutional because it's racism, and fascism, and shouldn't be normalized."

Deniz Kilic adds: "This is definitely a Muslim ban. No matter what anyone says."

For many demonstrators, the and had historical parallels. 

"After the Second World War, we said to ourselves never again should people suffer because of their ethnicity or religion. Now we are seeing this change, and we are seeing a wave of Islamophobia sweep over," says Kilic.

Swedes who hold dual citizenship with a country covered by the travel ban will not be impacted by Trump's executive order. 

But Malin Gamst argues that the ban is not as far removed from Sweden as it may seem. "We have our own Trump. He's a Sweden Democrat, and they are going to get a majority soon because people think that this is okay."

Per Johansson, 46, says that "the whole world [is affected] because the US is such an important country. Their economy and issues about the environment affect everyone."

Per Johansson. Photo: Tilly Olsson

"If we [Sweden] aren't careful enough and if we don't stop this from rising more, it's just going to get worse," Kilic argues.

"We are going to get to the point in Sweden where Muslim people, Jewish people, LGBTQ+ people, are not going to feel safe."

Some demonstrators argued that Sweden's obsession with the United States guarantees the ban registers here.

"We're practically the 51st state of the United States because we are so interested in everything American. It feels like it affects us directly," says Shabnam, 20.

Although more than 3,500 people said they were interested in attending the event on Facebook, the turnout was less than 500.

"The kind of protest we see here today must be a lot bigger, as we saw all over the world on the 21st of January," Johansson says, in reference to the Women's March movement, which attracted around 4,000 to its Stockholm incarnation.

"Speak out. Silence is violence." Armiero, age 17, says, repeating the phrase chanted by the crowd of demonstrators.

"Even small things like this, like listening to speeches, even though people think it doesn't make a difference, it does. It shows global solidarity," Armiero argues.

Many of the demonstrators also wanted to speak to those who are directly affected by Trump’s travel ban.

"Feeling like you’re outside of the norm just because you're not white is purely dumb," Aydan Latifi says. "The norm is all relative, it's not really for real. If you do things outside of the Western world, you shouldn’t consider yourself to be abnormal."

Malin Gamst adds: "I’m so sorry. You are not alone, we are many who fight for you. We are all standing for the rights that you asylum seekers have.

"Don't let the worst people speak for you because we see you. The worst that others say does not represent you, just like how Trump and (Sweden Democrat leader) Jimmie Åkesson do not speak for me."

"Stay strong," Kilic says. "Know that there are people there who care about you. Know that there are people who come out to protest for you, there are people from all countries, genders, sexualities, religions that care about you and want you to be safe."

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