The anti-Muslim group ACT for America called for a National March Against Sharia on June 10, a poorly veiled front for what were really nationwide demonstrations of Islamophobia.
Supporters turned out in full force, but America's better angels won the day as counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the marchers.
In cities across the country, Muslims and their allies took to the streets to defy hate and send a very clear message to the anti-Muslim marchers: America is our country, too.
Al Jazeera reported that many of the marching routes were shut down and that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told reporters that overall the anti-Muslim marches were "a bust." Anti-fascist protesters, known as Antifa, showed up wherever there were marchers to take a stand for American values.
The Southern Poverty Law Center defines ACT for America as an "extremist" group and believes it to be the United States' "largest grassroots anti-Muslim movement." While the organization stated that the march was specifically against the unconstitutionality of Sharia law (even more specifically their own misinterpretation of it) and sought to distance itself from white supremacists seeking to partner with its cause, actions speak louder than words. Many people at the rallies carried signs showing that, whatever ACT for America may say they are about, the provide racists and Islamophobes a platform.
However, we are fortunate to live in a nation where people can shout back.
In a statement released before the march by activist group Refuse Facism, organizers called for massive counter-protests.
"The bottom line: these people are fascists," the statement said. "They will not go away if ignored; they must be confronted and their program must be defeated."
According to CAIR, counter-protesters outnumbered anti-Muslim marchers 20-to-1 in Santa Clara, California. In cities like Austin, New York City, Syracuse, Berkeley, and Portland people went head-to-head with marchers and let them know that their bigotry would not be tolerated. In addition, these counter-protests were necessarily diverse, showing that progress's greatest strength is intersectionality.
The March Against Sharia is representative of President Donald Trump's administration and its narrow-minded policies targeting Muslims and other suppressed minorities. However, in contrast, the many counter-protests were representative of the other side of America, the diverse communities of people who see an attack on one of them as an attack on all.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters