LONDON – Thousands of people have joined protests in London and in cities around the UK against a controversial travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries imposed by US President Donald Trump.
The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
MPs are holding an emergency debate on the immigration measures.
A petition calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel Mr Trump’s planned state visit to the UK has been signed more than 1.4 million times.
The demonstration in London, organised by author and columnist Owen Jones, took place outside 10 Downing Street.
The prime minister’s office said earlier in the day that Mrs May was “very happy” to extend the invitation to Mr Trump on behalf of the Queen.
More than 25,000 people have signed up for the London protest on Facebook.
Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott have addressed the crowd, and the singer Lily Allen is also due to speak.
Demonstrations are also taking place in Manchester, where about 3,000 people are taking part, Glasgow, Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield, Oxford and about 30 other cities and towns.
One protester in Leeds told BBC Look North:
“I think it is really hard to make sense of the extreme way in which Donald Trump seems to be taking forward the first few days of his presidency, and how even in America people are defying the courts which are saying no, Trump can’t do this.
“To me, if someone has the power to get into the minds of people to the extent where they will disobey the courts, then the whole world is in a really, really dangerous place.”
Clare Solomon, who helped organise the protest in Manchester, said peopled wanted “to show their disgust at a racist, sexist president.
“We think Theresa May is a disgrace for holding hands with him and inviting him for a state visit.”
Critics of Mr Trump’s policy have called it a “Muslim ban” – a charge his administration denies.
Mrs May, who visited the president in Washington last week, has faced heavy criticism for refusing several times to condemn the crackdown when asked during a visit to Turkey.
Downing Street issued a statement late on Saturday night saying that the prime minister “does not agree” with Mr Trump’s travel ban but that US immigration was a “matter for the government of the United States”.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said Mr Trump “should not be welcomed to Britain while he abuses our shared values with his shameful Muslim ban and attacks on refugees’ and women’s rights”.