Rally against Islamic law in Atlanta

Faith Castro
June 11, 2017

A demonstration against Sharia law - Islam's legal code - Saturday in San Bernardino was one of dozens in cities across the US that drew counter-protests by people who said they stoked unfounded fears and a distorted view of the religion.

Demonstrators gathered to protest against Islamic law take part in a rally Saturday, June 10, 2017, in NY.

Demonstrations against Islamic law on Saturday in cities across the United States drew counterprotests by people who said the events stoked unfounded fears and presented a distorted view of the religion. Across the sidewalk, counter-demonstrators held signs proclaiming "No Trump, No Pence, No KKK" and calling the demonstration a "thinly veiled attack on Muslims".

"Our Muslim community is feeling a tremendous amount of stress and pressure", said former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who plans to attend a counter-rally Saturday. They claim that many aspects of Sharia law run contrary to basic human rights and are incompatible with our laws and our democratic values.

Sponsored by the nonprofit group ACT for America, the Inland March Against Sharia was one of numerous rallies held nationwide.

Some marchers against Sharia law chanted "gay rights" at one time and said they opposed Islam's treatment of women, but the executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center said he didn't appreciate the association. They consider the Portland and Eugene incidents, and other recent anti-Muslim crimes in America, part of an alarming trend that came to the forefront in last year's presidential election with far-right activists portraying Islam — and all Muslims — as a threat.

People take part in rally in support of Muslims rights to counter an anti-sharia law rally organized by ACT for America on June 10, 2017 at City Hall in NY. Saturday was the largest protests against Islam it has ever put on.

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According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. has a population that is only 0.9 percent Muslim; and Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University, told the AP that the vast majority of U.S. Muslims oppose implementing sharia in the U.S.

"We're here to educate and to bridge that gap, and to let people know that the United States Constitution has more aligned with the Sharia than people might understand", said Zahir Muhammad Mannan, director of outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Meriden.

However, the counter protest group, Seattle Stands With Our Muslim Neighbours, disagreed, saying on its Facebook page that ACT for America is "a recognized Islamophobic hate group". Some wore masks over their faces and called the anti-Sharia demonstrators white supremacists and chanted, "Punch a Nazi".

The group Act for America organized the march in Waterbury. One person was arrested after having a confrontation with the anti-Sharia law group and Oceanside police. She said she was pleased that more people supported the counter-protest than the protest. In Seattle, activists set up an "Ask an American Muslim" booth to give rally participants on either side a chance to speak with a Muslim.

The marches come amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the USA, including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren. "We're anti-Sharia. We're anti-radicals", she said.

"We're making so much noise to drown out the fact that they are furthering hate speech", said Eric Josephson, 66, a retired union organizer from the Bronx, noting the use of cowbells, drums and air horns to stop their opponents side from being heard.

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