Rallies against Islamic law draw counter-protests across US

“They have a very racist rhetoric.” said Erin Westfall, a Valencia Student “I felt that people on my campus are not defined by that and I wanted to show up and make my friends feel safe”. Eventually, though, a group of about 20 from inside made their way outside and converged with the counter-protesters.Leaders of the region’s Islamic community held a counter rally several miles away from the Anti-Sharia demonstration, explained Fauzia Rizvi, General Secretary of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco.ACT for America organized “March Against Sharia” rallies in at least 28 cities across America on Saturday.In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there was tension on the steps of the state capitol, where a similar number of protesters and counter-protesters faced off.Several people were arrested after fights broke out at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, although nobody was injured, according to local reports.Participants anxious that Islamic law could influence US courts and harm women, among other concerns. Gabriel has said that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, can not be a loyal citizen to the #United States of America”. Giant letters spelling out “Trump” loomed on the high-rise over the more than 100 protesters. Across the sidewalk, counter-demonstrators held signs proclaiming “No Trump, No Pence, No KKK” and calling the demonstration a “thinly veiled attack on Muslims”.Oath Keepers said on its website that it was “answering the call to defend free speech against those who would use terrorist violence or the threat of violence to shut it down”.Camo and rainbows clashed Saturday at the intersection of the North Econlockhatchee Trail and Valencia College Lane as protesters and counter-protesters screamed at each other about the pros and cons of Shariah law through megaphones. By 4 p.m., many people from both groups had left the area and only a few remained. 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 rallies were organized by ACT for America, an organization that calls itself the NRA of national security, protecting and preserving American culture.More than 100 U.S. religious and civil liberties groups denounced the rallies as disingenuously fear-mongering, and condemned the protests in a letter to the mayors of host cities.One of the issues addressed at the march in Waterbury was women’s rights.But critics say the organization vilifies Muslims and has repeatedly equated Islam with extremism.According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group is classified as a hate group that promotes an anti-Muslim agenda but members of the group say the goal is to send a strong message about human rights.