We asked people at last night's No Ban, No Wall rally why they protest.
“Trump’s going to be devastated when he finds out about this protest coming out of Auckland,” someone writes on the Facebook page of an anti-Trump protest.
It’s the kind of rhetoric that’s not uncommon on social media surrounding protests against Trump’s America: What’s the point? We’re in New Zealand. Who even cares?
Despite this attitude from some, an estimated 1000 people turned out to Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday evening to stand in solidarity against President Donald Trump’s executive order which has banned people from seven majority Muslim countries from travelling into the United States for 90 days, and put a 120 day hold on the country’s refugee programme.
A group of about six male Trump supporters, one bearing a megaphone and another carrying a bluetooth speaker, was kept away from the main rally by a line of eight police.
A brass band sporadically burst into song, drowning out their anti-Islam rhetoric, while people wearing "protector" sashes ensured those vulnerable to hate speech were ok.
'IT WILL ONLY ESCALATE FROM HERE'
“The main impact that Trump has here is making this dehumanising rhetoric ok,” says Golriz Ghahraman.
“This protest counters that.”
Born in Iran, Ghahraman was nine when her family fled political persecution and sought refuge in New Zealand. She has gone on to study law, and has worked for the United Nations on trials of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Criminal tribunal for Rwanda.
“My work has been about this kind of abuse of power and where it leads. This is that time in history,” she said.
Ghahraman said Trump’s rhetoric of persecution, his singling out of people based on race and religion would only escalate.
'WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THEY ARE WELCOME'
Sina Brown-Davis of the Pacific Panthers said it was important that Muslims felt safe and welcome in a time when Islamophobia was being promoted in the west.
“It’s important as Māori and as tangata whenua that we make sure Muslims know they are welcome here. They aren’t the ones who stole our land and murdered our people,” she said.
“It’s great to see people here from all walks of life. Many of these people had no choice about making New Zealand their home.”
'IT SHOWS THAT PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS WRONG'
Terata Hikairo says Islamophobia at the heart of Trump’s ban.
“We have a Texas mosque burnt down, we have an attack on a mosque in Canada by a white supremacist which left six people dead, we are seeing women having their burqas torn off. Trump’s rhetoric is normalising Islamophobia, it makes it OK for these people to come and shout down peaceful protesters,” he said.
“To see this large group of people here in Aotea Square, it shows that people know that this is wrong, and that is heartening.”
'WE ARE NOT ALONE'
Indonesian couple Hakim and Prima said they were so grateful to see people gathering in the square expressing empathy. “I feel like there is strong support for us and we are not alone,” Hakim said.
“I can’t believe Trump is now the most powerful person in the world … He has opened the way for people to express racism."
'INCREASINGLY, I HAVE BECOME MORE FEARFUL'
One of the speakers, Nisha, told RNZ she worried it was becoming more unsafe to be a migrant in New Zealand.
She feared for her safety after one of the main organisers of the rally was assaulted as she handed out flyers for the protest on the street.
"She was held up against the wall by her neck, her tooth was chipped and she needed stitches on her gum. Slurs were yelled at her and she was told to go back to her country."
The woman, originally from Pakistan, was too shaken up by her attack to speak to RNZ.
Nisha, who moved to New Zealand from Sri Lanka 13 years ago, said she felt racism towards migrants had worsened with the rise of Donald Trump in US politics.
"I'm sure that this has always existed but it's just come to the forefront of my attention... increasingly I have become more fearful," she said.