NEW YORK – Protesters rejecting anti-Muslim racism thronged to the streets in different American states, to counter a claimed “anti-Shari`ah” protest called by extremist ACT for America group, denouncing the group for spreading anti-Muslim bias.
“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 US,” Eric Josephson, 66, a retired union organizer from the Bronx, told NY Daily News on Saturday, June 10.
“This is obvious horse manure. There is no such movement.”
Planning their rallies on Saturday, June 10, ACT for America, a national grassroots anti-Muslim organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group, claims its “March Against Shari`ah” events are an effort to protect Muslim women and children from Islamic law.
In New York, about 100 demonstrators carrying signs with anti-Islamic slogans, one reading simply “NO MORE MUSLIMS”, shouted against Shari`ah law.
The small demonstration was outnumbered by hundreds of protesters who took the to streets to reject promotion of anti-Muslim bias.
Branding themselves as anti-fascist, counter protesters brought out cowbells, drums and air horns in an attempt to stop the anti-Muslim side from being heard.
“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 Josephson.
Similar counter protests marched in Chicago, saying the anti-Shari`ah protesters demonized Islam and created unnecessary fears about the religion.
The counter-protesters gathered on the northwest corner of Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, Chicago, banging drums and crying out “Racists, racists go home!” and “When Muslims are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
“Get out of my city, man, this isn’t a place for you!” one pedestrian shouted at the protesters, Chicago Tribune reported on Sunday, June 11.
“This is a place of diversity. This is the home of Harold Washington.”
Meredith Payne, a 44-year-old who lives in West Rogers Park, said she lives among a large Muslim community that’s respected and loved by others there.
That compelled her to join the counter-protest and speak out against what she said was Islamophobia. She said she was pleased that more people supported the counter-protest than the protest.
“It’s definitely a positive thing, and something we need to continue to do anytime we see hate anywhere,” she said.