WASHINGTON – Nearly 100 national and local organizations have called on the mayors of 29 cities to disavow the Marches Against Sharia scheduled for Saturday because of the controversial group that organized the event.
ACT for America, a Washington, D.C.-based group that says it focuses on fighting terrorism, organized the rallies. The grassroots organization claims more than 500,000 members in 1,000 chapters nationwide and refers to itself as “the NRA of national security.” The group has been accused for being anti-Muslim and its founder and chair, Brigitte Gabriel, has made inflammatory statements about Muslims.
A “March Against Sharia, March for Human Rights” sanctioned by the organization is scheduled for 28 cities in 19 states. The cities include Atlanta, New York, Seattle, Dallas, Boston, Phoenix and Orlando, Fla. The group has not planned a march for the nation’s capital.
The organization’s website says the marches “are in support of basic human rights for all – and against the horrific treatment of women, children, and members of the LGBTQ community that is sanctioned by Sharia law.”
ACT for America said on Wednesday that it canceled its march in Arkansas after learning that the organizer, Billy Roper, is affiliated with a white supremicist organization. Roper promoted the marches on his podcast, where he said Muslims “are not welcome in our nation and, of course, endgame, on our planet.” He called on white nationalists to march Saturday and to bring weapons.
“This is against all of our values,” Act for America said in a news release. “Any event held by this individual is not sanctioned by ACT for America, and is not supported or endorsed by ACT for America in any manner.”
A letter dated Wednesday was sent to the mayors of the 28 cities where ACT for America has sanctioned protests, along with West Chester, Ohio. The letter calls on the mayors to firmly reject “the forces of hate and bigotry that seek to divide us.”
“We urge you to issue an official statement to reiterate to the people of your city that every person is welcome and has the right to feel secure regardless of how they worship, where they’re from, or who they love. Furthermore, we ask that you recognize that American Muslims have been an essential part of America’s fabric since before our nation was founded.”
Nearly 100 organizations signed the letter, including Amnesty International USA; Anti-Defamation League; Council on American-Islamic Relations; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Muslim Justice League; Muslim Public Affairs Council; National Council of Jewish Women; The Sikh Coalition; and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The letter notes that Gabriel, ACT for America’s founder, “regularly vilifies Muslims, claiming that practicing Muslims cannot be loyal to the United States.”
Gabriel also has said that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society,” the letter says.
Security is expected to be very tight at all the marches.