BERLIN — Thousands took to the streets of European capitals, among them Berlin, Paris and London, on Sunday as part of the global “Women’s March” movement.
One day after large crowds attended protests across the United States and all over the world, including in Rome, Sydney and Buenos Aires, it was northern Europe's turn. While those who marched rallied against a number of issues — including the gender pay gap and perceived injustices in the Middle East — they all appeared to share a common dislike for President Trump. The number of rally participants worldwide was lower than the millions who took to the streets a year ago, but the “resistance” against Trump still drew hundreds of thousands.
Under the slogan “Time’s Up,” speakers such as women’s rights activists Helen Pankhurst were invited to raise public awareness about persistent gender inequalities and the global #MeToo movement in London on Sunday. Hundreds attended the rally.
In Berlin, about 500 people — including Americans, Germans, Palestinians, Israelis and Finnish citizens — turned up at a rally near the iconic Brandenburg Gate, waving banners against xenophobia and misogyny.
“I’m an artist living in Berlin, and I’m here because most museums are run by men, and we female artists can’t get in,” protester Melodie Ebner said. “We are devalued and struggling. It doesn’t matter what country we are in — women are more than 50 percent of the global population, and we need to get out of the house and on the street.”
“I hope the protest will show the world that we are here and ready to fight for these issues,” Emelie Sederholm, a 23-year old Finnish citizen who now lives in Berlin said.
Others also voiced concerns about what they perceived to be a weakening of the global “resistance” against Trump and his policies.
“Last year there were about five times as many people here,” said Jeremy Pine, 39, from Florida. “We’re here today to protest a lot of different issues — poor governance of the U.S. administration, misogynistic behavior, xenophobia, and Trump’s agenda to take away rights from nonwhite people all over the world. Populism is on the rise globally.”
Pine also referred to the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has steadily gained support in recent years. After the far right here had been restricted to the political sidelines for more than half a century, the rise of the AfD in general elections last September allowed it to gain seats in Parliament, the first far-right party to do so in contemporary German history.
Still, Berlin is a role model for many here, especially as U.S. leadership is waning. After a year of Trump’s “America First” agenda, the U.S. role in the world has dramatically changed. The top-rated global power in the world is now Germany, outranking the United States for the first time in a recent Gallup poll. Whereas confidence in U.S. leadership has fallen from 48 percent to 30 percent within the past year, approval of German leadership remains unchanged at 41 percent.
“We protest the politics of Trump and his shameless sexist behavior. For him, only money is important. His America-first politics is very dangerous,” said Husein Chawick, 65, who also attended the rally to protest the recent imprisonment of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year old Palestinian activist.
Ten-year-old Bodhi Werner-Salsbury, his brother, Indigo, and his parents echoed that sentiment. The family moved to Berlin from Fort Collins, Colo., half a year ago, but kept watching developments unfold back at home with dismay.
“We have Muslim relatives, so Trump’s ban on Muslims is personal for us,” the 10-year-old said.