An anti-Muslim group has a “March Against Sharia” demonstration planned in 28 cities, including Seattle, on Saturday.
The group ACT for America organized the events. In Seattle they’ve planned the rally for 10:00 a.m. Saturday at City Hall Plaza.
The group says it’s not anti-Muslim, but the Southern Poverty Law Center calls it an extremist group and the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.
The Saturday demonstration targets Sharia law, a set of practices that are followed by Muslims.
ACT for America could be outnumbered in Seattle on Saturday. There’s a counter protest being organized by members of the Islamic faith and other religions scheduled for a few blocks away. Hundreds of people have RSVP’d online to that event, billed as "Seattle Stands with Our Muslim Neighbors."
Aziz Junejo, a leader in the local Muslim community, plans to be there.
Junejo: "We respect the right of anyone to have a demonstration, but strictly calling it an anti-Sharia rally is just a cover for calling it anti-Muslim or anti-Islam. That's very clear and I think that's what upsets us the most. But there's a lot of good people and good groups that are coming out to support us right now and we're very encouraged."
He said clergy from other faiths, including Jewish and Christian leaders, have asked to lead the rally that's in support of Muslim Americans.
Meanwhile, ACT is hoping to draw in people from around the region for its event, since a similar rally in Portland, Oregon was canceled. That cancelation came after Portland’s mayor shared concerns that it could further provoke tensions after a fatal stabbing attack last month.
Seattle's mayor and the ACLU of Washington said officials must allow the anti-Muslim group to hold their rally in Seattle.
Mayor Ed Murray, however, continues to stress that Seattle is a welcome home for immigrants, Muslims, and other marginalized groups.
Murray: "We've seen thousands march and light candles in support of immigrants and refugees. These and other voices represent the true Seattle. We as a city have doubled down on inclusive policies, on civil right protections, but it takes all of us. Speak up when you witness hate."
The ACLU of Washington said event permits can't be revoked without concrete evidence that violence is imminent. But Kathleen Taylor, president of the ACLU of Washington, said the Trump Administration has emboldened people to act from the position of hate. She said the ACLU will continue to fight against that agenda.
The organizers of March Against Sharia have not respond to a request for comment.