Holland against Hate: Thousands join Hague protest against "xenophobic" Trump

Thousands gather on Malieveld in The Hague to protest against Trump, 1 Feb 2017
Thousands gather on Malieveld in The Hague to protest against Trump, 1 Feb 2017Photo: @henkleenders / Twitter

Thousands of people gathered on the Malieveld in The Hague on Wednesday afternoon for a Holland against Hate demonstration against American president Donald Trump. The initiators want the protest to show that the Netherlands is against Trump's "xenophobic policy" of closing the United States borders to people from seven Muslim countries. They also hope to convince the Dutch government to send the same signal. Many politicians were also part of the demonstration, NOS reports.

The demonstration started at 4:00 p.m. on the Malieveld. It was initially arranged to be on Lange Voorhout, near the U.S. embassy, but after over 5 thousand people indicated that they would participate, the demonstration was moved to the larger Malieveld. There were several speakers, including multiple parliamentarians and Eduard Nazarski, director for Amnesty International Nederland. 

The protest, arranged under title Holland against Hate, was initiated by Hague resident Wouter Booij. According to him, there is a large group of concerned Dutch "who feels uncomfortable with the divisions sown and who is done with the permanent yelling", he said to the broadcaster.

The demonstrators carried signs with texts against Trump and for tolerance. Some chanted slogans like "no fear, no hate" and "make love great again", referring to Trump's campaign slogan Make America Great Again. There were also posters of Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Development Coopreration dressed as superman - she counteracted Trump's decision to stop funding family planning in developing countries by starting an international fund and calling on numerous other countries to contribute to it.

PvdA Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education, Culture and Science spoke on behalf of the government. She said that she stands with the protesters and called Trump's decree a slap in the face of all those who fight for freedom and equality. "I have long thought that the closing of borders was nothing more than hollow campaigning rhetoric, but those poisonous words have become reality."

Other politicians present included a number of political party leaders - Lodewijk Asscher of the PvdA, Alexander Pechtold of the D66, Jesse Klaver of GroenLInks and Tunahan Kuzu of DENK.

According to Asscher, the United States is one of the Netherlands main allies, but friends in particular should not be afraid to tell you the truth. He believes that Trump's entry ban does not only go against Dutch values, but also against American values. "People should be judged by what they do rather than by their background", he said, according to the broadcaster. Asscher pointed out that PVV leader Geert Wilders defends Trump's decree. "It is purely putting away one group. Let us therefore get moving in time and make sure it does not come to that." the PvdA leader said. 

D66 leader Pecthold called Trump a populist who believes he must govern by decree. Since Trump's inauguration, many things happened that makes you wonder what the future will look like, he said. Large groups of people are being discriminated against. "I have the chance to express my self on that and so I'm doing it."

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver thinks that the fact that so many Dutch politicians are protesting against the Netherlands' most important ally, shows how serious the situation is. "If the president of the United States engages discrimination and exclusion on the basis of religion, then we rise up." According to him, the demonstration shows that the protesters fight against discrimination and exclusion and that it will not happen in the Netherlands. 

There were two small disturbances during the demonstration, according to AD. Around 5:20 p.m. there was a small scuffle, which was quickly broken up with no one arrested. A witness told the newspaper it involved a small group that "tried to kick up a fuss". And a short while later a few hundred demonstrators tried to march to the U.S. embassy. They were stopped by the police and returned to the Malieveld by the riot police.