A wave of anti-Muslim rallies planned for almost 30 cities across the US on Saturday by far-right activists has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights groups and inspired counter-protests nationwide.
A number of small protests took place and in many places, including New York and Chicago, a few dozen “anti-Sharia” demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters.
Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through Seattle on Saturday to confront a few dozen people claiming Sharia was incompatible with western freedoms. The counter protesters banged 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-Sharia rally.
Later, Seattle police used tear gas to disperse rowdy demonstrators and made several arrests. The department said it was still reviewing how many people were arrested and what charges they might face.
Elsewhere, in St Paul in Minnesota, police made seven arrests as fights broke out during demonstrations there.
The rallies have been organized by Act for America, which claims to be protesting about human rights violations but has been deemed an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The demonstrations prompted security fears at mosques across the country and come at a time when hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.
“The theme of today is drowning out racism,” said New York counter-protester Tony Murphy, standing next to demonstrators with colorful earplugs. “The more racists get a platform, the more people get attacked.”
Alexander Ramsey House by Sue.Ann Via Flickr: Alexander Ramsey served as both the first governor of the Minnesota Territory and the second governor of the state. Construction on the home began in 1868. The family lived in the home until the granddaughters, who never married, died in 1959 and 1964. They left the house and all its contents to the Minnesota Historical Society, founded in part by their grandfather in 1849.