Protesters in Southfield rally against Islamic law

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

Southfield — Some 200 people gathered in Southfield for an anti-Sharia rally Saturday, part of a national movement organized by a group called ACT for America. Another rally took place in Lansing.

To a soundtrack that included “Yankee Doodle,” “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and the occasional supportive honks of passing motorists, participants stood along Telegraph Road south of 12 Mile holding posters with messages like “Sterling Heights Says Stop Sharia” and “Honor Kill No.”

American flags fluttered in a cooling breeze on an 86-degree afternoon, and people posed for pictures in front of a 1977 Winnebago covered with Donald Trump campaign posters.

The rallies, held in more than two dozen U.S. cities, were organized by ACT for America, which claims Islamic law is incompatible with Western democracy.

Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver had said in advance of the event that he couldn’t understand either the need for the rally, or the desire to hold it in Southfield.

The city’s largest block of Middle Eastern immigrants are Iraqi Christians, he noted, and he had not heard of any actual incursions of the harsh regulations enforced in some Islamic regions and generally referred to in the U.S. as Sharia.

“This sounds,” he said, “like a rally against unicorns.”

Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through Seattle to confront a few dozen people claiming Sharia is incompatible with Western freedoms. Local activists set up an “Ask an American Muslim” booth where attendees could meet and learn about their Muslim neighbors.

Scholars say there’s little to no threat to U.S. democracy from Islamic law. In New York and Chicago, a few dozen anti-Shariah demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters.

ACT said it supports the rights of those subject to Sharia law and opposes discrimination. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Muslim organization.

In Southfield, Cecelia Russell, 72, who brought a German shepherd named Bella and a poster reading “No Sharia Law in the USA,” said she had come from West Bloomfield because “This is our country. If we don’t stop it, Sharia law will take over.”

Associated Press contributed to this report