Anti-Sharia Rallies Draw Counterprotesters in Cities Across the US

Protesters against Sharia Law nationwide.

"I don't believe Islam can peacefully coexist with the Constitution, " said Seattle anti-Sharia demonstrator Aaron Bassford, 29.

"I feel like we need to make a stand now, before [sharia] makes more inroads", protester Shannon Boulogne told WABE reporter Adhiti Bandlamudi.

"There are certain parts of sharia law that doesn't bother me".

MANN: President Donald Trump was really the big invisible presence here today. One key ACT initiative is its lobbying for "American Laws for American Courts": legislation which seeks to ban the use of Shariah in United States civil courts.

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

But the overwhelming majority of Muslims don't want to replace USA law with Islamic law, known as Sharia, and only "radical extremist groups" would call for that, said Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

ACT for America said it supports the rights of those subject to Shariah law and opposes discrimination.

It could in fact be stated that Sharia law does not exist as Americans think of law, as a coded set of rulings set down by a single authority.

The March Against Sharia gained prominence a few weeks ago after two men were fatally stabbed on a Portland commuter train, allegedly by a man shouting anti-Muslim slogans at two young women, one of whom was Muslim. Just about a mile up Third Street, about 200 people gathered at Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church's Family Life Center for a unity rally organized by Community Responders Network, a Harrisburg-based anti-hate group.

At its peak, the anti-Sharia rally had about 50 participants. About 300 people attended San Bernardino's rallies. ACT calls itself "the only national security grassroots organization in America" and claims to educate Americans about the threats of criminal activity and terrorism.

In Chicago, around 30 people demonstrated against Shariah while around twice as many people participated in a counter-protest held across the street. 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.

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Seattle, banging drums, cymbals and cowbells behind a large sign saying "Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors".

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.

It wasn't immediately clear what prompted the clash between protesters and counter-protesters in Seattle, and the violence appeared to subside relatively quickly.

"It's insane!" Counter-protesters banged on pots and made other noise to try to drown out the anti-Shariah rally.

Several people were arrested after fights broke out at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, although nobody was injured, according to local reports.

  • Larry Hoffman