By Alistair Smout and Luke Bridges
LONDON (Reuters) – A banner reading “Build bridges not walls” was draped across London’s Tower Bridge as part of several protests in Europe and Asia on Friday against the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president.
Soon after sunrise, activists on the bridge, with its two Gothic-style towers, held up pink letters reading “Act now!” while others beside parliament unfurled banners saying “Migrants welcome here”.
There were also demonstrations in Japan, the Philippines and Belgium, where hundreds of people held a minute’s silence, lighting candles in Friday evening’s bitter cold and holding signs defending women’s rights.
In the Scottish capital, banners on Edinburgh’s North Bridge read “Women rise up” and “There is no Planet B” – a reference to Trump’s perceived lack of interest in combating climate change.
Later, after the inauguration ceremony, several hundred people gathered outside the U.S. embassy in London, chanting and singing protest songs.
“I’m deeply, deeply saddened and embarrassed,” said one of them, Kim Grey, 40, from Texas. “I’m here because I think the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for him need to see the solidarity around the world … that he’s unfit, he’s unacceptable.”
Trump opponents were angered by his comments during last year’s election campaign about women, illegal immigrants and Muslims, and his pledges to build a wall on the Mexican border.
In Tokyo, several hundred people, most of them expatriate Americans, marched along a downtown street holding electric candles or placards reading “Love Trumps Hate” and “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”.
In the Philippines, about 200 demonstrators from a Philippine nationalist group rallied for about an hour outside the U.S. embassy in Manila.
Some held up signs demanding U.S. troops leave the Philippines while others set fire to a paper U.S. flag bearing a picture of Trump’s face.
At the rally in Brussels, people held up signs saying “Proud to be a Pussy” and “We will fight Like a Girl”.
“I have a wife and three daughters; I have a vested interest in the equality of women,” said Protestant pastor Murray Frick, 62. “I am afraid of a big step backwards in terms of dehumanizing groups of people … about my home country losing its moral compass.”
Julie Chasin, a 42-year-old teacher originally from New York who has lived in London for a decade, joined the Tower Bridge protest.
“Yes Donald Trump is President, but he still needs to protect everybody’s rights,” said Chasin, a Democrat. “It’s scary. I hope he’s kept in check. I hope everyone who is telling me not to worry, and saying that we have a strong system of checks and balances, I hope that it’s true”.
Trump’s supporters, who admire his experience in business and see him as an outsider who will take a fresh approach to politics, were also marking his inauguration in London.
Some 200 of them gathered under the gaze of a life-sized cardboard figure of Trump to celebrate at an exclusive club near the Ritz hotel.
As he completed the oath, the room broke into a standing ovation complete with high-five celebrations. “I was expecting him to win,” said businessman David Pattinson. “It was the same with Brexit in how the polls got it wrong.”
In Moscow, Russians hoping Trump will usher in a new era of detente welcomed his inauguration. Russian nationalists held an all-night party at what used to be the main Soviet-era post office in Moscow.
Sellers of traditional matryoshka nesting dolls have added Trump dolls to their popular line-up of items carved in the likeness of President Vladimir Putin, Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, ex-President Mikhail Gorbachev and Josef Stalin.
And craftsmen in the city of Zlatoust, east of Moscow, have released a limited series of silver and gold commemorative coins, engraved with “In Trump We Trust” – an allusion to the phrase on U.S. banknotes “In God We Trust”.
In Nigeria, more than a thousand supporters of a southern secessionist movement took to the streets to welcome Trump, hoping he will end what they see as the “Islamization” of the West African nation.
(Additional reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; Writing by Stephen Addison; Editing by Dominic Evans)