LONDON/VIENNA (Reuters) - Thousands of women took to the streets of European capitals to join “sister marches” in Asia against newly installed U.S. President Trump ahead of a major rally in Washington expected to draw nearly a quarter of a million people.
Waving banners with slogans like “Special relationship, just say no” and “Nasty women unite,” the demonstrators gathered outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square before heading to a rally in central Trafalgar Square.
Worldwide some 670 marches were planned, according to the organisers’ website which says more than two million marchers are expected to protest against Trump, who was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president on Friday.
Celebrities including rights activist Bianca Jagger, singer Charlotte Church and actor Ian McKellen expressed their support for the protest on social media.
Several marchers wore pink “pussy” hats, and carried banners with slogans like: “this pussy bites back” after the emergence of a 2005 tape in which Trump spoke of women in a demeaning way sparked widespread outrage.
In Europe, marches also took place in Berlin, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Geneva and Amsterdam.
Around 2,000 people marched in Vienna, according to estimates by the police and organisers, but sub-zero temperatures quickly thinned the crowd to a couple of hundred.
One protester placed a pink knitted hat with cat ears on the golden statue of 19th century composer Johann Strauss, while in Geneva police estimated around 1,000 people, mainly women and children, marched through the Swiss city.
In Africa, hundreds of protesters in Nairobi’s Karura Forest waved placards and sang American protest songs.
Emily MacCartney, a 28-year-old documentary maker with a Texas tattoo on her arm, said she felt the new president did not respect women’s rights or gay rights.
“Within 30 minutes of the inauguration, they had removed LGTBQ rights from the White House website,” she said, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual or queer.
Kenyan Muthoni Ngige, 28, said “I’m here because I’m against world leaders being pussy grabbers. I’m here in solidarity with the women of America.”
Many marchers were also irate about the New York real estate developer’s demeaning comments about immigrants and Muslims, and his apparent lack of interest in environmental affairs.
In Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, about 3,000 people - men and women - gathered for a rally in Hyde Park before marching on the U.S. consulate downtown, while organisers said 5,000 people rallied in Melbourne.
“We’re not marching as an anti-Trump movement per se, we’re marching to protest the hate speech, the hateful rhetoric, the misogyny, the bigotry, the xenophobia and we want to present a united voice with women around the globe,” organiser Mindy Freiband told Reuters.
In New Zealand, there were marches in four cities, involving around 2,000 people, Wellington’s march organiser Bette Flagler told Reuters.
Elsewhere in Asia, hundreds of people joined protests in Tokyo, including many American expatriates.
Reporting by Stephen Addison in London, Harry Pearl and Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi