A far-right wing organization named ACT for America, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on Saturday held anti-Muslim rallies in almost 30 locations across the United States; however, the demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters in most of the cities.
A demonstration against Sharia law - Islam's legal code - Saturday in San Bernardino was one of dozens in cities across the US that drew counter-protests by people who said they stoked unfounded fears and a distorted view of the religion.
Anti-Shariah protesters said their demonstration in Santa Clara and San Jose Saturday was organized in response to what they consider to be an existential threat to American democracy.
Protesters in Indianapolis were on Washington Street, and organizers say the march is about fighting for human rights, rather than against Muslims.
"I would dare to say they have not met a Muslim before", said Farhan Memon, chairperson of the Council on American Islamic Relations Connecticut Chapter. Muslim men are taught from a young age that women are dirty, women are evil, women are too sexy, women are wrong.
People hold up signs during a counter-protest to an anti-Shariah law rally origanized by ACT for America on June 10, 2017 at City Hall in NY. They call ACT for America a recognized hate group.
In Atlanta, rally participants and a handful of counter-protesters appeared Saturday in Piedmont Park.
"There are so many messages going on that I'm not sure who's who", Hards added. Tensions rose when counter-protesters crossed the street to meet the anti-Sharia group, tossing jugs of rotten milk across the barrier that separated them. Pro-Trump people told me that this idea of Sharia is sort of a shorthand, a symbol of where they think the country might go if more Muslim refugees and immigrants arrive.
On the other side of the country, several dozen "anti-sharia" protesters gathered at Seattle's City Hall, according to The Associated Press.
A few hours earlier on Saturday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined several activists from Muslim Solidarity ATX and other groups who had gathered at the Governor's Mansion to collect donations for the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.
Apparently concerned that the US is being overrun by Islamic religious fundamentalists, a right-wing lobbying group with close ties to the administration of US President Donald Trump is attempting to drum up support for their cause by staging marches in about two dozen cities across the country. "We want to send a message to Muslims that they're not welcome in our state".
The marches come amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head scarves and bullying of schoolchildren.
"Our enemy is not an organization of people living overseas plotting to attack", Gabriel writes in "Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America", her 2006 New York Times best-seller.
Dueling demonstrations in Chicago and many other cities were held Saturday between those who raised the specter that extremist interpretations of Islamic law might somehow spread across the USA and others who called such fears unfounded.