Supporters of an organization considered by some to be extremist and anti-Muslim plan to march Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh, while a second group of marchers demonstrates against Islamophobia nearby.
The “March Against Sharia” is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the North Carolina State Capitol, and is being organized by ACT for America. The Raleigh ACT march is one of more than two dozen scheduled across the country.
Two blocks away at the same time on Halifax Mall, a counter-rally will be held. The North Carolina-based Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia is holding the counterprotest because “all people have the right to live in dignity, without fear of violence,” it said in a release.
The protests come in the middle of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of spirituality, contemplation and celebration for Muslims.
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The “March Against Sharia” Facebook event page said that Sharia — laws and personal moral code based on Islamic scriptures — is “incompatible with our Constitution and with American values.”
Brigitte Tudor, better known as Brigitte Gabriel, founded ACT for America in 2007 at a time when an anti-Muslim movement in America was gaining momentum, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors activist groups. The group claims to have 280,000 members and more than 1,000 chapters.
Organizers of the rally against Islamophobia and racism hope the event unites Muslim organizations and community allies to fight racism and what it called “white nationalism emboldened by (President Donald) Trump’s administration.”
“Many Southeastern states such as North Carolina are on the front lines of the juxtaposition of the population growth of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, and the growth in white supremacist organizations,” Chavi Koneru, executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together, said in a release. “Given these dynamics, it is critical for grassroots organizations like NCAAT with our local partners to come together to reject hate and racism and to support smart, inclusive public policies that take a stand against division.”