Islamic law rally by Chicago Trump building

Asma Elhuni, of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, criticized the "anti-sharia" protesters.

Dueling protests were held Saturday at a busy intersection in Santa Clara as anti-Sharia law activists turned out as well as those who accused the group of being anti-Muslim.

Those opposing Islam and its Shariah law in Butler County's West Chester Twp. were countered by a group of self-described anti-fascists who covered their faces with bandanas, The Journal-News reported.

The rally, which is just one of 28 others planned in cities across the United States, was organized by ACT for America, a group that claims its focus is to fight terrorism and promote national security.

The counterprotest group, Seattle Stands With Our Muslim Neighbors, disagreed, saying on its Facebook page that ACT for America is "a recognized Islamophobic hate group".

Police on foot, on horseback and in helicopters kept watch.

Similar protests and counter-protests also happened in St. Paul, Minn., where authorities arrested several people "when scuffles broke out", the AP reports, and New York City, where counter-protesters banged pots and pans in an effort to drown out "anti-sharia" demonstrators.

Participants anxious that Islamic law could influence US courts and harm women, among other concerns.

In Seattle, about 75 anti-sharia protesters were outnumbered by counter-protesters at a rally that was moved from Portland, Oregon.

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-Shariah rally.

The demonstrations were held in more than two dozen US cities, including Seattle, New York, Chicago and San Bernardino, California.

Denver police said four people were arrested during the brief confrontations.

Such outlandish statements appeared to seem completely plausible to numerous 200 or participants of the rally held outside the the Islamic Association of North Texas in the suburb of Richardson. Numerous anti-Sharia protesters in Chicago said they were not members of Act for America but supported the group's mission for the rally. However, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Muslim group.

"I'm against Sharia Law".

"We don't want it imposed in this country", said Merav Levi, an Israeli immigrant.

"This is a march against sharia, not Muslims", said Moore, a 35-year-old from Washington County, Pa., who works in the oil and gas industry. "Fiqh" refers to jurisprudence, or specific laws.

The Muslim community - including here in Colorado - is planning to host several community events "to peacefully respond to these bigoted rallies by opening our doors to meet our community and recommit ourselves to diversity, acceptance, resilience, and compassion for people of all faiths and backgrounds". "We can not allow any group to be scapegoat". "Laws are amenable to change".

CIDI Founder Regina Mustafa said those protesters are marching against something they don't understand. In California, small but raucous demonstrations were held in a handful of cities, including San Bernardino, where a husband and wife inspired by the Islamic State group killed 14 people and wounded 22 in a 2015 shooting attack.

"The theme of today is drowning out racism", said counter-protester Tony Murphy, standing next to demonstrators with colorful earplugs. "There are so many messages going on that I'm not sure who's who". In Chicago, a handful of protesters at the corner of Wabash and Wacker spoke out against Sharia law and the way women are treated in certain Muslim-majority nations. "We have survived, God willing, for over 1,500 years", said Shahriar Ahmed, president of the Balil Masjid Mosque Association."If this religion was that weird and we were that bad, could we have survived?" She added, of Shariah: "It's coming in very slowly, and a lot of the refugees are bringing that ideology here".

  • Joanne Flowers