Small but raucous demonstrations across the country Saturday targeted the notion that extremist interpretations of Islamic law might somehow infect American democracy, but many of the rallies drew even more boisterous counter-protests by people who called such fears an unfounded distortion of Islam, the AP reports. Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through downtown Seattle, banging drums, cymbals, and cowbells behind a large sign saying "Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors." Participants chanted "No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here" on their way to City Hall, while a phalanx of bicycle police officers separated them from an anti-Shariah rally numbering in the dozens. Police ultimately used tear gas to disperse rowdy demonstrators and made several arrests.
In front of the Trump building in downtown Chicago, about 30 people demonstrated against Islamic law and in favor of President Trump, shouting slogans and holding signs that read "Ban Sharia" and "Sharia abuses women." About twice as many counter-protesters marshaled across the street. A similar scene played out in a park near a New York courthouse, where counter-protesters sounded air-horns and banged pots and pans in an effort to silence an anti-Shariah rally. In St. Paul, Minn., state troopers arrested seven people when scuffles broke out at the close of competing demonstrations at the state Capitol. The rallies, held in more than two dozen US cities, were organized by ACT for America, which claims Islamic law is incompatible with Western democracy. The organization said it opposes discrimination and supports the rights of those subject to Shariah. However, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Muslim group. (Read more Sharia law stories.)