Anti-Sharia marches planned across the US

Drew Williams a member of the Eugene Islamic Center poses for a portrait outside the building in Eugene Ore. as locksmith Jim King upgrades the locks on the front doors. Williams said members

The grassroots organization claims more than 500,000 members in 1,000 chapters nationwide and refers to itself as "the NRA of national security". Event attendees and speakers will include members of the LGBTQ community, practicing and reformist Muslims, apostates and a female genital mutilation survivor who will address the crowd in Austin, Texas. The center was targeted by a death threat in May 2017.

The worshippers at the Eugene Islamic Center are anxious about their security. The victims were trying to protect two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab, as a man shouted anti-Islamic slurs.

Marches against Sharia law were planned Saturday in more than two dozen cities across the United States, including Atlanta.

"We need to remember that we're strong when we're united", said the U.S. representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat who hails from Dearborn, Michigan, where roughly 40 per cent of the residents are Muslim.

The demonstration is sponsored by ACT for America, which claims that Islamic Sharia law is a threat to American values. But a year ago, speaking at an ACT for America conference, she called her group "the NRA of national security", an apparent reference to the National Rifle Association.

"When we see these kinds of crimes, where Muslims are being assaulted and attacked, we find these same words and slurs that are used by ACT for America", Buhkari said.

"We're here because this anti-Sharia march sounds more like a march against Muslims", Sale said.

Founder Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian immigrant from Lebanon, believes, "practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, can not be a loyal citizen to the United States of America". A temporary sign was destroyed a few weeks later.

"Let's hope this protest that is taking place on Saturday is an opportunity for people to learn about all the opportunities that exists in the Twin Cites", Rev. Grant Abbott of the Saint Paul Interfaith Network said.

The other march, called "Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors", seeks to bring the community together in solidarity with Muslims.

The group "Michigan AntiFacism & Anti-White Supremacy Network" is also organizing a 9 a.m. demonstration at 915 E. Miller Road in Lansing.

There are 28 marches planned around the country, according to reports.

Corey Saylor, a spokesperson with the Council on American Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera rallies like the National March Against Sharia contribute to "the creation of an environment in which violence [against Muslims] feels permissible".

In peaceful, side-by-side rallies Saturday, a group that says Islamic law espouses violence and terrorism and a gathering of Muslims expressed their sharply contrasting views in front of a large but relaxed contingent of police officers along Grand Street dowtown. "Speak up when you witness hate". The man was charged with intimidation, menacing and harassment. "But there's a lot of good people and good groups that are coming out to support us right now and we're very encouraged".

AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in NY contributed to this report.

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