A protester holds a sign during an anti-Sharia rally in Seattle, Washington, U.S., June 10, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
By David DeKok and Tom James
HARRISBURG, Pa./SEATTLE (Reuters) – Protesters held rallies across the United States on Saturday to denounce sharia law, the Islamic legal and moral code that organizers say poses a threat to American freedoms, but critics believe anti-Muslim hatred is behind the condemnation.
ACT for America, a self-described grassroots organisation focusing on national security, staged rallies in New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver and Seattle, as well as many smaller cities. Hundreds of people pledged on social media to attend an event that ACT billed as “March against Sharia.”
On the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg, barricades and a heavy police presence, including officers mounted on horses, separated about 60 anti-sharia demonstrators from an equal number of counter-protesters. Many of the latter were dressed in black masks and hoods and chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist USA.”
The atmosphere was tense but the protest went off with no violence and only one arrest, police said.
More than a dozen men belonging to the anti-government Oath Keepers were on hand, invited by ACT to provide security. Most of them carried handguns.
Chris Achey, 47, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, said he did not hate Muslims but believes that much of Islam is incompatible with Western culture.