New York anti-Sharia demonstration dwarfed by Islam-supporting counter-protesters


NEW YORK, June 11 (APP): Anti-Muslim protesters marching in New York and more than 20 other US cities Saturday were met by mostly larger groups of counter-protesters who drowned them out with slogans of their own.
In New York, the two sides faced off in one of the main city squares,
where “ACT for America”, a lobbying organization opposed to Muslim immigration, organized a “March against Sharia” part of a series of nationwide marches the group organized Saturday.
About 100 demonstrators carrying signs with anti-Islamic slogans, one
reading simply “NO MORE MUSLIMS” shouted against Sharia law, which “ACT for America” argues is threatening the United States. The organization is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an anti-Muslim hate group.
On its website, the group wrote: “Sharia is incompatible with Western
democracy and the freedoms it affords” and that ACT is committed to protecting women and children from Sharia Law, which it described as including honour killing” and discriminatory against women.
But critics say the organization vilifies Muslims and has repeatedly
equated Islam with extremism.
In their view, the rallies are part of a wave of anti-Muslim and
anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by President Donald Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims entering the country during his election campaign.
On the opposite side of New York’s Foley Square, hundreds of people
marched banging drums, cymbals and cowbells behind a large sign saying “We stands with our Muslim neighbours.” Participants chanted “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here,” while a phalanx of police officers separated them from an anti-Shariah rally.
“We’re making so much noise to drown out the fact that they are
furthering hate speech. I do not believe they have a right to a platform. They are planning murder and mayhem,” said Eric Josephson, a retired union organizer from the Bronx, a borough of New York City.
“This is to attempt to push back against Nazis and other extreme right
wingers, who are apparently protesting against a movement to impose Sharia law in the U.S. This is obvious horse manure. There is no such movement.”
“ACT demonizes all Muslims as terrorists who want to subvert the
political system in this country,” Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said. They disseminate lies and fallacies about Muslims to spread fear about the religion, she added.
The Islamaphobic organization has gained some momentum since its
founding in 2007 by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese immigrant who has openly called Islam inconsistent with U.S law.
“A practicing Muslim who believes the word of the (holy) Quran to be the word of Allah, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day, this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Holy) Quran, cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States,” Ms. Gabriel said during a course at the Department of Defence’s Joint Forces Staff College in 2007.
The nationwide “March Against Shariah” first gained widespread attention when the Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, moved to stop the local chapter from rallying.
The mayors decision came after two men were fatally stabbed as they
tried to protect two women, one of whom was wearing a headscarf from an anti-Muslim tirade.
The organizers of Portland parade eventually changed the venue to
Seattle, Washington State, citing “safety concerns” in Portland.
“These marches are concerning because of what they will mean to the
Muslim community,” Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said.
“When an organization propagandizes an entire community, it tends to
embolden some people to commit hate crimes.”
But the ‘ACT for America’ said in a statement that the upcoming march is about “human rights” and protecting women and children from Sharia which they say is quietly taking a hold of U.S law.
The ‘ACT for America’ initiated the “Stop Shariah Now” campaign in 2008. The SPLC said the group’s website described its mission to inform and educate the public about what Shariah is, how it is creeping into American society and compromising our constitutional freedom of speech, press, religion and equality what we can do to stop it.”
More than 13 states have introduced bills banning Sharia law as a result
of the campaign, Beirich said.
“It is absolutely impossible for any religious law to take over U.S.
law,” Beirich said.
“The Constitution stops it, there is a separation of church and
state,” she said.
Another staple of the group is the Thin Blue Line Project, which is a
“Radicalization Map Locator” that lists the addresses of almost every Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the country, as well as a number of mosques and Islamic institutions all listed as suspected national security concerns, according to the SPLC.
The organization also forbids any interfaith dialogue with Muslims based
on the baseless suspicion that all members of the faith are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, an established international political Islamist group founded in 1928.
“If you or someone you know is aware of a church or synagogue involved
in or considering interfaith outreach, please warn them about organizations and individuals connected to the Muslim Brotherhood,” the organization said in a 2012 statement.
The group campaigned hard for Donald Trump, and after he won the
election, they boasted of having a ‘direct line’ to the president.
Gabriel even visited the White House and tweeted she was going there for a meeting.
The White House did not return requests confirming a meeting with
Gabriel, according to media reports.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and current Trump adviser Walid Phares are ACT board advisers, according to the organization. And CIA director Mike Pompeo is ‘steadfast ally,’ Gabriel said in a letter to her base.