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Nationwide ‘rally against Sharia law’ reflects violent surge of Islamophobia since Trump election

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The rise of armed anti-Muslim fervor comes as no surprise to those familiar with the industry that’s shaped its path. In the US, politicians have worked tirelessly to establish what’s been described as a ‘Green Scare’, and this has translated into legislation targeting Muslims, their houses of worship, and even the plots they purchase to bury their dead.

According to a report (PDF) from the national advocacy group South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), found that anti-Islam state laws, often marketed as being “anti-Sharia”, “do not increase safety but rather lead to religious intolerance.” This intolerance manifests in the form of attacks on mosques, the specific exclusion of Islam as a subject in public school, and policies targeting Muslim immigrants and refugees. SAALT also discovered that in the last year alone, 31 states passed unconstitutional bans on Syrian refugees.

On June 10, leading anti-Muslim organization ACT for America, whose founder, Brigitte Gabriel once described Muslims as being a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society”, initiated a nationwide ‘rally against Sharia law’. This event was marketed as a “march for human rights” drew an assortment of protesters, many of whom expressed their disdain for Islam, and some of whom were armed. Members of the Oath Keepers, an organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being an extremist group, were invited by ACT for America to provide protesters with security. Most of them were armed, despite there already being heavy police presence, and barricades.

Robert, an office clerk and musician from Austin, Texas who asked to have his name withheld for privacy concerns, tells Mondoweiss that the counter protest he attended at the Texas capitol outnumbered ACT for America’s anti-Sharia rally-outnumbering them by at least 2.5 to 1. While the counter protest, which was mainly organized by Texans Against Islamophobia, was non-violent, Robert admits that it was confrontational. “The police presence was very heavy,” Robert explains. He describes this presence as being almost militant, with many officers armed with full riot gear. “The police were a greater presence than the protesters were.” Most of those Robert recognized at the counter protest were from the Austin Socialist Collective and the Austin Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which is where he first heard about the event. “There were also many I recognized from various antifa gatherings.”

Robert explains that what drove him to get involved in the counter protest event was his belief that direct displays of solidarity are necessary in order to help those who are targeted by hate. “I don’t want reactionaries to feel unopposed here. And I don’t want Muslims and perceived Muslims to feel vulnerable or alone in the community.” While acknowledging that the groups who participated in the counter-protest have done a good job in combating Islamophobia, Robert argues that Austin, in general, has issues with complacency when it comes to confronting reactionaries. “I think you get people who feel that by simply not being despicable to those in the community that are perceived as being Muslim, that they are being good allies. But when it comes to demonstrating solidarity through direct action, they are nowhere to be found. And as always, we can make improvements in our organizing.”

Elizabeth Huston, a 25 year old immigration paralegal from Chicago, Illinois, attended a local event spearheaded by People United Against Oppression, and ANSWER Coalition Chicago, a leftist, anti-racist, anti-war coalition of organizations. The anti-Sharia protest was meant to take place at the northeast corner of Wacker and Wabash, on the south side of the Chicago river, just across the river from one of Trump’s buildings, but the counter protest arrived there first, so “they went over to the northwest corner of the same intersection”.  Huston says that the anti-Sharia protesters “gave up” around noon, which was two hours earlier than their permit was for, “probably because nobody could even hear them, because there couldn’t have been more than a few dozen of them, and at least a couple hundred of us.”

Huston was surprised to see how often anti-Sharia protesters attempted to use liberal rhetoric to cloak their racism, citing examples of signs reading “RIP LGBT under Sharia” and similar expressions about women’s rights, and human rights. Huston argues that protesters “seemed to have learned that if they just say “we hate brown people” we’ll call them racists, and if they say “we hate foreigners” we’ll call them xenophobes, and if they say “we hate Muslims” we’ll call them Islamophobes.” What Huston describes is an attempt to “flip the script” in order to rationalise their anti-Muslim sentiment. “It’s very disingenuous, and I loathe the idea of white nationalists trying to derail and distract people with this stuff.”

Huston contends that Chicago can do more to counteract Islamophobia by tending to parts of the city where mostly people of color live, “from directing resources to underfunded schools, to putting grocery stores in food deserts, to making reparations for the racist housing policies that helped segregate the city in the first place – in short, putting the whole city on the same footing regardless of race – materially counteracts Islamophobia.”

While most anti-Sharia protesters were met with fierce opposition, there’s been no final nail struck into the Islamophobia industry’s coffin, and, as many have admitted, further organized action will be required to squash the violent surge of anti-Muslim sentiment that’s grown ever more ominous since the election of Donald Trump. And allies are not willing to see this surge continue without a fight.

Roqayah Chamseddine
About Roqayah Chamseddine

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American writer based in Sydney. She writes the Sharp Edges column at Shadowproof and politics at Paste Magazine. She tweets at @roqchams.

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28 Responses

  1. JWalters
    June 15, 2017, 8:42 pm

    Any doubt that this needless, ridiculous, nationwide Sharia law phobia is an Israeli operation at root? Who benefits? Israel has a documented history of false flag operations.
    “Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won”

    Divide and conquer.

    • YoniFalic
      June 16, 2017, 12:25 am

      Islamophobia is the Zionism of fools.

      In point of fact, sharia is very similar to halakhah although one can make a case that sharia is more progressive.

      • Bont Eastlake
        Bont Eastlake
        June 17, 2017, 3:34 am

        True, sharia law even compared to modern western laws like those in America, is exceptionally progressive and more functional. For example, sharia law is holistic in its treatment of the economic, social as well environmental aspects of human lives. It serves to bring balance and the state of righteonous in society, not merely to scare and punish like the sociopathic legal system of the US.

        One of the most common Islamophobes cry out against shariah is how it threaten the lives of gay people….when state violence towards non-hetero sex was pioneered in Western Europe like the buggery and sodomy laws in UK.

      • YoniFalic
        June 17, 2017, 9:08 am

        Both sharia and halakhah involve casuistry which make them unacceptable as a modern legal system although both systems did a fairly thorough job of eliminating casuistry from contract law.

        The Ottoman legal system, which exemplified the most evolved sharia law, seems to have developed fairness and regularity comparable to Western legal systems or even superior to them.

        Those interested in the subject may consult State, Society, and Law in Islam: Ottoman Law in Comparative Perspective by HU Professor Haim Gerber.

      • Bont Eastlake
        Bont Eastlake
        June 17, 2017, 10:10 am


        Surely the modern American legal system involve casuistry when lawyers get to use complicated jargons and esoteric knowledge to sway opinions and plant prejudice within judge and jury? In any court case, the lawyers always win even when they lose.

        How about the huge disparity in judgement decisions between rich and poor, white and black, men and women? Surely some form of casuistry plays a role in it?

      • Mooser
        June 17, 2017, 11:22 am

        “Both sharia and halakhah involve casuistry”

        “Casuistry: the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions; sophistry.”
        I’d use the word ‘sophistry’, I can pronounce that one.

      • YoniFalic
        June 17, 2017, 12:16 pm

        Why blame casuistry when corruption of the system is a more than sufficient explanation for the disparities?

        The meaning of casuistry is in flux, but I am using the following definition.

        The definition of casuistry is the use of morals or beliefs in decisions of right and wrong in order to reach or rationalize a solution.

        In a reasonable legal system judgments either from a judge or jury should be derived from the laws and the facts. Morality and beliefs should not play a role. The Ottoman Empire used to provide judges with rule books on which judgments were to be based.

        A standard example of casuistry in halakhah are legal judgments that give a Jewish doctor license to treat a dying non-Jewish patient on Shabbat.

        I use this example to argue that Judaism is an utterly stupid religion, to which no rational human being should cling, and that said, I have to note that Jesus appears to have pointed out the stupidity of Judaic ideas on this subject over 2 thousand years ago.

        The US Supreme Court tends to shoot down casuistry whenever it appears in US law or in the application of US law.

        For example,

        Erie Doctrine,

        Yick Wo v. Hopkins,

        Brown v. Board, etc.

        Of course, one could argue that keeping the USA half-free and half-slave until the Civil War was an exercise in both corruption and also casuistry.

      • Mooser
        June 17, 2017, 2:02 pm

        “The definition of casuistry is the use of morals or beliefs in decisions of right and wrong in order to reach or rationalize a solution.”

        Doesn’t make it any easier to pronounce.

        “I use this example to argue that Judaism is an utterly stupid religion, to which no rational human being should cling”

        QED, no casuistry (also hard to spell!) involved, read ’em and weep!

      • YoniFalic
        June 17, 2017, 2:45 pm

        The posqim that give permission to a doctor to treat a dying non-Jew on shabbat believe that failing to perform the treatment would instigate hostility against Jews. This type of reasoning is precisely the casuistry that a reasonable and predictable legal system must avoid.

      • Mooser
        June 17, 2017, 5:23 pm

        “Yoni” you know who thinks all those rules up? I bet it’s the Jewsuits.

      • YoniFalic
        June 17, 2017, 7:05 pm

        @Mooser, I know that you are goofing on me, but sometimes life imitates sarcasm. There was a lot more intellectual exchange between the Polish Catholic seminary and the Polish Jewish yeshiva and kolel than either Polish Jews or Polish Catholics are willing to admit.

        For example, the quodlibet of the Polish Catholic Seminary is exactly the pilpul of the Polish Jewish yeshiva or kolel.

      • Mooser
        June 18, 2017, 12:34 pm

        “For example, the quodlibet of the Polish Catholic Seminary is exactly the pilpul of the Polish Jewish yeshiva or kolel.”

        Exactly. If the Jewsuit fits, wear it.

      • YoniFalic
        June 18, 2017, 6:44 pm

        Perfect rejoinder.

        BTW, David Gans was an exemplar of the intercommunication and interconnection of Jewish and Christian intellectuals in the 16th – 17th century.

        I have previously mentioned overlap of Jewish and Christian scholarly strata in a comment on “Yet another young American Jew has had it with Israel”.

    • Kay24
      June 17, 2017, 12:35 pm

      It serves their purpose. All they have to do is project their narrative: Palestinians = terrorists = Muslims, and they expect the world, especially naive Americans to buy that bull. They, especially Nutty, consistently keeps whining how he has to fight terrorism too, and he knows there are anti Muslim elements who will sympathize and even send him dollars, for illegal settlements and other projects that are the hallmarks of zionist occupation. Most of the leaders of the anti Muslim campaign, have strong loyalties, are pro Israel, and zionist sympathizers.
      If these American hate groups marched and insulted Jews the same way, the howling about anti-semitism would be heard as far as the moon.

    • festus
      June 19, 2017, 2:58 pm

      Blaming Trump for Islamophobia when the Zionists have spent several decades creating it?


  2. gamal
    June 15, 2017, 10:45 pm

    the peculiar inability to co-exist with “others” being displayed by Euro/Americans reminded me of a review of “The Spirit of Hindu law” by Donald Davis

    if you would like to it may give you some things to consider

    “By way of explanation, Davis says that “the need to know the details of Hindu law for the sake of a ‘non-intrusive’ colonial administration has put us in the habit of only learning about Hindu law, and not from it”. His effort, therefore, has been to know the Hindu thinking on law by looking at the key conceptual ideas of Hindu jurisprudence. Hence the book’s title: The spirit of Hindu law.

    Writing “on the beauty of Hindu law” in the concluding chapter, Davis says the post-French Revolution period of Euro-American legal history is, in a way, the story of progressively restricting law to the court and the legislature, domains controlled by the state. What many of the scholars who studied “legal pluralism, religious law, or legal anthropology” have shown, however, is that “while this narrative has worked effectively in terms of how many people understand law conceptually, it has also hidden the reality of plural legal orders, alternative normative regimes, and religious or traditional self-appropriations of law’s creative, co-ordinating, good-producing potential.”

    In contrast, he contends, Hindu law calls “all of this Dharma and we would be well served to ask what might be gained by calling it all law as well … Religious legal systems such as Hindu law remind us that legal, or at least law-like, processes and institutions function in even the most ordinary of human contexts, that law is not necessarily the sole province of the state, and that law enables human flourishing as much as it constrains human vice … Hindu law shows that law’s domain is co-extensive with life itself.”

  3. Marnie
    June 15, 2017, 11:50 pm

    “Huston was surprised to see how often anti-Sharia protesters attempted to use liberal rhetoric to cloak their racism, citing examples of signs reading “RIP LGBT under Sharia” and similar expressions about women’s rights, and human rights. Huston argues that protesters “seemed to have learned that if they just say “we hate brown people” we’ll call them racists, and if they say “we hate foreigners” we’ll call them xenophobes, and if they say “we hate Muslims” we’ll call them Islamophobes.” What Huston describes is an attempt to “flip the script” in order to rationalise their anti-Muslim sentiment. “It’s very disingenuous, and I loathe the idea of white nationalists trying to derail and distract people with this stuff.”

    They must be using the zionist playbook because this sounds just like die-hard zionists and their apologists rhetoric when ‘arguing’ with antizionists. There’s only one good thing that has come out of tRUMP’s victory and that is the masks, almost all of them, are off for good.

    • gamal
      June 16, 2017, 12:48 pm

      “RIP LGBT under Sharia”

      and yet a generation ago gay westerners flocked to the Arab world because of its relaxed attitude, Burroughs in Tangier, oh and of course Jean Senac, pied noir advocate of Algerian independence and openly gay, even back then when it was not easy, I don’t get the impression that Anti-Sharia activists know anything now or read anything ever but Abdelkrim Bahloul wrote “The Assassinated Sun” about his mysterious murder…

      • Bont Eastlake
        Bont Eastlake
        June 17, 2017, 3:43 am


        Western progressives and conservatives often conveniently forget that most European countries and North America were extremely homophobic legally and socially, throughout their history. In pre-colonial caliphates as well as during early Islamic states, few gave any care on homosexuality or gender roles. Western homophobic attitudes from their inceptions as nations up until the 21st century are so well documented yet none of these places ever had shariah as their legal system.

      • YoniFalic
        June 17, 2017, 9:19 am

        Joseph Massad has written an interesting book on the intellectual history of sexuality in the Arab world. It is entitled Desiring Arabs.

        Massad points out that contemporary intolerance among Muslims toward homosexuality is at least partly a result of Westernization.

        When I was a student at Columbia, I was impressed by Massad’s command of Arabic intellectual history. Unfortunately, because he seems unlike his colleague Nadia Abu el-Haj reluctant to apply his towering intellect to understanding the intellectual history of Eastern European Slavo-Turk fake “Jews”, he often makes dumb comments about “fake Jewish” and Zionist intellectual history.

        In fairness to Massad, I have to note that Edward Said seems to have suffered from the same problem.

  4. JLewisDickerson
    June 16, 2017, 1:20 am

    Only fairly recently have I come to realize that this country has always been extremely racist at its core.
    We seemed to be making some progress in the 60s and 70s, but now it appears that we were just learning how to not let our racist core show quite as much.
    The core obviously remains quite rotten.

    Think about how Trump uses Twitter, and then listen closely to what Huxley says about the possibility of a dictator being able to rule indefinitely by obtaining the “consent of the ruled” through the use of propaganda in a way that bypasses the rational side of man and appeals directly to the subconscious, and to the “deeper emotions” (thereby making those ruled over indefinitely love their slavery).

    Also, recall that Netanyahu has claimed in the past to “know how to move America”.


  5. echinococcus
    June 16, 2017, 1:21 am


    an Israeli operation at root

    A Zionist operation certainly –“Israeli” dunno, as it is hard to believe that the place called Israel leads anything. I don’t think there is any doubt that the real owners and rulers of Zionism are in the US.

  6. JosephA
    June 16, 2017, 2:22 am

    I am happy that the progressive activists are outnumbering the racists and bigots.

    Also, one note about the annoying phrase “food desert”, this is a fanciful myth. I urge everybody to abandon utilizing such a useless phrase.

    • Kate
      June 16, 2017, 2:49 pm

      Sadly, ‘food deserts’ are not a myth. The poor, mostly Latino city near me has no grocery stores of its own (just ‘convenience’ stores) and people must take buses to other towns to get affordable and decent food. Many poor neighborhoods have this problem. In this city the bus system makes things even more difficult for people by not allowing them to take more than 2 bags on a bus!
      My own largely affluent town was a food desert for over a year when one grocery chain took over a strip mall from another chain and then spent many months redoing the store. The only other place to buy food in town for that year was an expensive ‘health food’ store. People in town without cars (many elderly) had to take a 2 1/2 hour bus trip (the bus only ran every 80 minutes) to a store in another town. More than just an inconvenience for many people.

      • Citizen
        June 18, 2017, 11:05 am

        Never hear about this situation on mainstream media.

  7. Citizen
    June 16, 2017, 5:18 am

    Nobody prevents or protests the full exercise of Halakhah in some Jewish communities in the USA–is there an analogy here relevant to tolerating Sharia law?

  8. Kay24
    June 16, 2017, 6:48 am

    Most probably most of them do not know the real meaning of “sharia”, and it was obvious this was an anti Muslim march. There isn’t a single piece of legislation in the nation passed, or in the wings to be passed, that has anything to do with sharia law in this country. So why this idiotic assumption that there are elements trying to get sharia law here, and who is behind this narrative and these meaningless marches? Frank Gaffney? Nina Rosenwald? Christian zionists?
    The usual anti Muslim suspects?

  9. shaun patrick
    shaun patrick
    June 19, 2017, 12:01 am

    What Trump and Netanyahu have in common is they preach fear based hate which results in people becoming desensitized so the unthinkable becomes normal a part of this process involves calling Palestinians and Arabs terrorists to justify the unthinkable. When the Allies liberated the concentration camps at the end of World War 2 they often made the local German population enter the camps to see the atrocities; this shook peoples consciences and woke them up from their indifference and hate. I have no idea what it will take to wake up Israeli or American hate mongers that follow Trump and Netanyahu.

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