SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle police used tear gas to disperse rowdy demonstrators and made several arrests following an anti-Shariah rally and a much larger counter-protest.
The department said it was still reviewing how many people were arrested and what charges they might face, but at least some were expected to be booked for investigation of assault.
The rally was one of more than two dozen held across the U.S. on Saturday to target the notion that extremist interpretations of Islamic law might somehow infect American democracy. Counter-protesters called such fears an unfounded distortion of Islam.
Minnesota State Police made seven arrests as fights broke out during demonstrations at the state Capitol in St. Paul.
At least 20 people including a Republican candidate for Georgia governor gathered in an Atlanta park for a protest against Islamic law.
The rally, one of several held in more than two dozen U.S. cities, was organized by ACT for America, which claims Islamic law is incompatible with Western democracy. The organization says 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.
Rally participants and a handful of counter-protesters appeared Saturday in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Counter-protesters held a banner reading “Refuse Fascism” and chanted while the other side shouted back about female genital mutilation and honor killings.
State Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate for governor, spoke to the rally, according to his spokesman, Seth Weathers. Williams also posed for pictures with a militia group and called on attendees to “unite against Shariah law,” the SPLC said.
Authorities have made several arrests after fights broke out during an anti-Shariah rally and counter-protest at the Minnesota State Capitol.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports (https://goo.gl/kaAlbt ) about 100 people gathered inside the Capitol rotunda and listened to speeches asserting Islamic law is a threat to democracy. Three times as many counter-protesters demonstrated outside.
Several scuffles broke out on the Capitol steps as the events drew to a close and state troopers escorted anti-Shariah protesters across the grounds. The Minnesota State Patrol arrested about a half-dozen people.
Opponents of anti-Shariah demonstrations being held around the country Saturday say the events stoked unfounded fears and a distorted view of the religion. They say Islamic law poses no threat to American democracy.
Protesters who say they oppose Islamic law and counter-protesters shouted at each other from behind police barriers in Chicago in one of several such protests nationwide.
The Saturday rallies in Chicago occurred near a building developed by President Donald Trump. Giant letters spelling out “Trump” loomed on the high-rise over the more than 100 protesters.
About 30 demonstrators stood to one side of a street holding signs that read “Ban Sharia” and “Sharia abuses women.” Just across the street, a larger and more vocal group of around 75 people chanted at them, “Racists out!”
A small group also stood at a nearby George Washington monument, chanting, “America first!” Some wore red hats with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” A dozen police surrounded them as counter-protesters shouted several feet away.
Marches against Islamic law have drawn larger counter-rallies in some U.S. cities.
Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through Seattle on Saturday to confront a few dozen people claiming Shariah is incompatible with Western freedoms. Local activists set up an “Ask an American Muslim” booth where attendees could meet and learn about their Muslim neighbors.
Scholars say there’s little to no threat to U.S. democracy from Islamic law.
In New York and Chicago, a few dozen anti-Shariah demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters.
The group ACT for America held anti-Sharia rallies in more than two dozen cities. The group said it supports the rights of those subject to Shariah law and opposes discrimination. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Muslim organization.
Marches against Islamic law are scheduled in more than two dozen cities across the United States.
Counter-demonstrations were also planned for Saturday by opponents who called the marches anti-Muslim and an attempt to stoke hatred. The group organizing the rallies, ACT for America, claims Shariah is incompatible with Western democracy
But Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, says most Muslims don’t want to replace U.S. law with Islamic law, known as Shariah.
He says only “radical extremist groups” would call for that.