In response to tomorrow’s anti-Sharia march, a local group organized a counter-demonstration called “Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors.” Other anti-Sharia counter protests are reportedly planned across the nation in cities like Atlanta and Syracuse.
The demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Occidental Park, which is less than half a mile from “March against Sharia,” located at City Hall. The anti-Sharia march is one of many organized by ACT for America, which is the “largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, claiming 280,000 members and over 1,000 chapters,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Kim, a spokesperson for “Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors,” (who asked to give only her first name to prevent internet trolls from contacting her) said the goal of the counter protest is to send an anti-divisive, positive message and demonstrate the connections across a broad coalition of faith-based and non-faith-based groups.
Some posts on the Facebook page indicate plans to confront the anti-Muslim rally, but Kim says the group doesn’t condone any rabble-rousing.
“Part of the rally will be a march that goes toward City Hall, but there is no plan to have a confrontation. The goal is to not be aggressive,” Kim said. “We don’t want confrontation and we don’t want anybody to be unsafe.”
Kim said the counter protest welcomes everyone, and has received support from a variety of organizations, including some Republican groups.
Following the announcement of the “March against Sharia,” a handful of Jewish and Christian leaders denounced the anti-Sharia protest and expressed solidarity for the Muslim community.
Rabbi Daniel Weiner, Senior Rabbi of the Temple De Hirsch Sinai of Seattle and Bellevue, refers to the supporters of the anti-Sharia march as a “detestable group of extremists” and calls their ideologies “horrifically unacceptable.”
“It’s really just a weak veil for anti-Muslim bigotry,” Weiner said. “It’s an anti-Muslim protest – it’s not about Sharia law.”
Some commenters on the “Seattle Stands with our Muslim Neighbors” Facebook page who identified themselves as Muslim said they wish they could attend, but will stay away out of fear of the violence that may ensue. One person commented:
“Thanks for organizing this! As a Muslim I don't feel safe putting myself in this situation as a counter protester. It's important that allies show up for us and put their bodies between us and those that hate us. Thanks again! There in spirit!”