Anti-Sharia rallies around the U.S. denounce Islam while stoking concerns among Muslim groups

Speaking out about what they believe are the ills of Islam, anti-Sharia law activists demonstrated nationwide Saturday, but were met by counter-protesters who assailed their rhetoric as insensitive and demeaning.

Members of Act for America, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gathered in parks and plazas across the country, organizing nearly two dozen so-called March Against Sharia rallies, stoking concerns and counter-events by Muslim leaders who say the group is spewing hate.

In Atlanta, an assortment of militia men brandishing assault rifles, supporters of President Trump waving American flags and men’s rights activists wearing helmets descended on Piedmont Park, a leafy oasis in the city’s affluent, liberal Midtown neighborhood.

In New York, nearly 100 people attended a rally near lower Manhattan. They were outnumbered by counter-protesters, and the two sides hurled insults across two rows of police barricades.

“Commies,” screamed the anti-Sharia demonstrators.

“Fascists,” retorted the counter-demonstrators.

Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saturday his group was helping to organize counter-protests. CAIR was among 129 groups that urged mayors of cities where the rallies were scheduled to disavow them.

“It’s simple: This group does not like Muslims,” he said of Act for America.