14 July 2017
A Texan couple who left the U.S. as “refugees” after President Donald Trump won the U.S. election were among hundreds of people protesting against his visit in the French capital in stark contrast to the warm official welcome.
The refugees identified as Destini and Michael O’Neill joined hundreds in a designated “no Trump zone” in the Place de Republique to listen to music and speeches as the President sat down to a luxurious dinner in the Eiffel Tower.
“We’re essentially refugees in Paris,” Ms. O’Neill said. “We left Texas because Mr. Trump won the election.
“We want to stand with Paris to say we support the fact Mr. Trump is an illegitimate President – he does not represent America.”
Demonstrators held “hell no” and “not my President” signs at the event as bands played republican anthems, in one of a series of protests marking Mr. Trump’s visit.
Emmanuel Macron has been seeking to woo his counterpart with a tour of monuments including Napoleon’s tomb, visit to the Élysée Palace and dinner at the exclusive Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower with their wives.
The pair vowed to maintain the alliance between France and the U.S. and said they discussed working together on issues including the fight against ISIS and Paris climate change agreement following a bilateral meeting.
But protesters in the Place de la Republique were angered by Mr Macron’s decision to extend the invitation, despite his ideological differences with Mr Trump, widespread public disdain towards the US President and continued scandal over alleged Russian backing for his campaign.
“I just want to make sure Mr. Trump doesn’t have a good time in Paris,” said Francesca Humi, a 22-year-old British-French citizen. “Even though this is a diplomatic visit it’s not ok.”
Friend Sonia Larbi-Aissa, a U.S.-French citizen, said she was surprised by Mr. Macron’s invite given his previous “political posturing”, adding: “It’s hypocritical and we’re calling them out on it.”
Lucianne Tonti, from the Paris Against Trump campaign group, said the protest hoped to act as a counterpoint to the warm official welcome given to the US President.