Dozens of US cities brace for anti-Muslim marches

Critics say the National March Against Sharia is organised by groups that promote hate speech against Muslims.

Anti-Muslim group plans marches in dozens of cities across the US [File: Eric Gay/AP]
Anti-Muslim group plans marches in dozens of cities across the US [File: Eric Gay/AP]

Cities across the United States are gearing up for the National March Against Sharia, an anti-Muslim campaign that has been criticised by several rights groups and watchdogs.

ACT for America, described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) as the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the US, called for Saturday’s marches in at least 28 cities in more than 20 states. 

In a statement on ACT for America’s website, the group claims that sharia – or Islamic law – runs contrary to human rights and the US Constitution.

Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s founder, is a Lebanese American who has referred to Arabs as “barbarians” in the past. She has been a vocal supporter of right-wing US President Donald Trump.

In a speech to a pro-Israel lobby group in 2007, Gabriel claimed that Arabs have “no soul”.

In recent years there has been a sharp rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, says CAIR [Konstantinos Antonopoulos/Al Jazeera] 

President Trump, who promised during his electoral campaign to ban Muslims from entering the country, has signed two executive orders seeking to limit travel from Muslim-majority countries since taking office less than six months ago.

After being overturned in a handful of courts, Trump’s ban will be considered by the Supreme Court.

Corey Saylor, a spokesperson with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera rallies like the National March Against Sharia contribute to “the creation of an environment in which violence [against Muslims] feels permissible”. 

The SPLC says neo-Nazi, anti-government and white supremacist organisations have thrown their weight behind the marches and plan to attend.

CAIR has identified several anti-Muslim groups operating in a lucrative industry [Konstantinos Antonopoulos/Al Jazeera]

In Batesville, Arkansas, local neo-Nazi Billy Roper has claimed he and his allies are organising the local rally in tandem with ACT for America.

The anti-Muslim marches have also been promoted by the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group, and by various organisations within the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition that includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

The nationwide marches come just weeks after Jeremy Christian, a 35-year-old white supremacist, allegedly stabbed to death two men on a train when they tried to prevent him from harassing a teenage Muslim girl in Portland, Oregon.

Counterprotests are also slated to take place in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington and North Carolina, among others.

[Konstantinos Antonopoulos/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera


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