'March Against Sharia' Planned Across the US
Saturday's nationwide "March Against Sharia," sponsored by a group known for aggressively criticizing Islam, has in recent days become a rallying cause for right-wing extremists, forcing march organizers to repudiate some of their own supporters and prompting concern about clashes with militant leftists.
The marches, due to be held in at least 19 states, are being coordinated by ACT for America, a conservative grass-roots organization that calls itself "the NRA of national security." The group has a long history of opposing Sharia, which is a legal or philosophical code derived from Islamic scripture and meant to guide the behavior of observant Muslims.
ACT for America organizers say an adherence to Sharia among Muslims leads to abuses against women, from discrimination to honor killings.
The national coordinator of the marches, Scott Presler, is a 29-year-old Republican operative who says he, as a gay man, was first motivated to fight Muslim extremism after the deadly Orlando, Fla., shooting last June.
The target in Orlando was a gay nightclub, and the perpetrator allegedly pledged loyalty to ISIS. To Presler, it highlighted a problem of anti-gay bigotry in orthodox Islam.
Left-wing feminists have taken to protest the March Against Sharia apparently oblivious to the teachings of Sharia or how it punishes women and views them as property.
The Oath Keepers website says members promise to support the U.S. Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic" and pledge to disobey any order they consider unconstitutional.
The prospect of violent confrontations at the anti-Sharia marches have local law enforcement authorities on edge. In San Bernardino, an "antifa" group has posted signs at the site of the march, urging activists to confront the marchers. A police spokesman says the department will be monitoring both sides for any signs of trouble.