In Seattle and other cities, anti-Sharia protests bring out the opposition

Protesters of Islamic law and counter-demonstrators expressing support for Muslims clashed verbally Saturday, prompting police to step between them, as dozens of anti-Shariah rallies took place around the country. The rally was held near the Inland Regional Center, the sight of the terrorist attack that killed 14 people on December 2, 2015.

But organizers and protesters said the march was about fighting for human rights. A group of bicycle police officers separated them from dozens rallying against Shariah. "Laws are amenable to change".

The Minnesota State Patrol arrested seven people in Saint Paul and Capitol Police in Pennsylvania arrested two people. Authorities said everything had stayed peaceful for the most part, but three people were arrested on suspicion of smashing vehicle windows.

Despite today's large crowd, everyone protested peacefully and fortunately no one was hurt. I saw people on both sides of the street actually wearing uniforms, a lot of military militia-style fatigues on the pro-Trump anti-Sharia side of the street.

When President Donald Trump campaigned a year ago, he said he wanted to test Muslims coming into America to make sure they don't want Sharia law to supersede the US Constitution. However, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Muslim group.

In Atlanta, rally participants and a handful of counter-protesters appeared Saturday in Piedmont Park. Community members gathered in front of the Governor's Mansion and held up hand written signs with messages directed at anti-Muslim protesters.

State Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate for governor, spoke to the rally, according to his spokesman, Seth Weathers.

"Our nation is built on the freedom of religion - a pillar of our democracy - which we must always respect, protect, and honor", ACT for America said on its website".

In Austin, the group gathered at the Capitol where they were met by counter protestors.

The SPLC says Oath Keepers is "one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the United States", organised around a "set of baseless conspiracy theories".

On the opposing side, Muslims and their supporters said there are many misunderstandings about Islam and Sharia law.

Left-wing counter protesters turned out in force at these rallies, opposing the stand against Islamic law being applied in the USA, and nowhere was it more contentious than in Seattle. Some have blamed Trump's harsh rhetoric on Islam for the uptick in anti-Muslim activity, arguing that the president has normalized such behavior. Giant letters spelling out "Trump" loomed on the high-rise over the more than 100 protesters. Sharia is the religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition as found in the Quran and the teachings of the prophet Muhammed.

  • Larry Hoffman