Rallies against Islamic law draw counter-protests across US

Jay Jacobs
June 13, 2017

A phalanx of bicycle police officers kept the sides separated during the sanctioned events, but conflicts flared as the gatherings concluded. The Los Angeles Times cited legal experts who said there's no legal way to implement Sharia law - or other foreign criminal or civil codes - in the United States, and to do so would be a violation of the separation of church and state.

Jim Gilles asked his fellow protesters gathered Saturday (June 10) outside one of the largest Islamic worship centers in the Dallas area. "I am not racist", she said.

The rally was one of more than two dozen held across the USA on Saturday to target the notion that extremist interpretations of Islamic law might somehow infect American democracy. But numerous rallies drew even more raucous counter-protests by people who called such fears unfounded.

"We understand what Islam is, and we say 'no, '" Proud Boys member Pawl Bazile told the crowd in NY, according to the Post.

ACT for America denies being anti-Muslim, saying its enemy is the anti-western "radical Islam", though its founder Brigitte Gabriel is accused of neglecting such nuance in the past.

A similar scene played out in a park near a NY courthouse, where counter-protesters sounded air-horns and banged pots and pans in an effort to silence an anti-Sharia rally. Police then cleared the park while counter-protesters yelled at them. Williams also posed for pictures with a militia group and called on attendees to "unite against Shariah law", the SPLC said. At one point, a counter-demonstrator sprayed Southern with an unidentified liquid, allegedly urine. In St. Paul, Minnesota, state troopers arrested about a half-dozen people when scuffles broke out at the close of competing demonstrations at the state Capitol. Three people were arrested.

As part of a nationwide collection of rallies organized by the group ACT for America, around 100 people met for a so-called anti-Sharia law protest. The rallies occurred near a building developed by President Donald Trump.

"Each side boasted about 150-to-175 people" in a protest and counter-protest in Denver, according to The Denver Post, and law enforcement arrested four people.

Across the street, a group of 30 or so protesters, clad in black and occasionally drumming, carried flags of their own, some with "Antifascist Action" written on them. Some wore red hats with Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again".

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Marches against Islamic law have drawn larger counter-rallies in some US cities.

Just after 2 p.m., only a handful of anti-Sharia ralliers remained, as the counter-protesters, still at least one hundred strong, began marching south.

"The theme of today is drowning out racism", said NY counter-protester Tony Murphy, standing next to demonstrators with colorful earplugs.

The anti-Islamic law group, ACT for America, organized a series of protests Saturday in 18 states. The group said it supports the rights of those subject to Shariah law and opposes discrimination.

"They won't tell us why the Sharia Law should be good for this country, they don't tell us why we need to let in all these Muslims, all they can do is call us names and chant this nonsense", an anti-Muslim protester commented.

Sharia law does not legally exist in the United States, though some states have passed legislation preventing laws based on Islam.

Ann Van Dyke, who works with the Community Responders Network and helped plan Saturday's rally, said when events such as the anti-Sharia march are happening in town, it is "important for the rest of the community to speak up with more voices to affirm equality and violence".

Sharia is a set of guidelines for Islamic life, which in some countries is enforced as a theocratic rule of law but in many others is a legally nonbinding set of personal moral guidelines. "We are not affiliated with any extremist groups".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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