Jeremy Joseph Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. When three men on the train intervened, police say, Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one. Photo by Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, Pool

Portland ‘Anti-Sharia’ Rally, Criticized By Mayor After Stabbing, Moved to Seattle

The Seattle March Against Sharia is one of more than 20 planned across the nation.

An “anti-Sharia” rally planned to be held in Portland—which critics say is a thinly veiled attack on Muslim Americans in general—has been canceled and will be merged with one planned for Seattle instead, organizers say. The decision to move the rally comes after a fatal triple stabbing committed by a man yelling anti-Muslim slurs on a Portland MAX train spurred debate over what kind of speech should be permissible in public spaces.

Writing on Facebook, Scott Ryer Presler with the anti-Muslim group ACT For America, says the rally has been moved due to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s comments about hate speech not being protected by the First Amendment (FYI, it is) and that the rally’s permit should be revoked. Presler is listed as a co-organizer of the rally along with Vancouver, Washington, resident Joey Gibson. Gibson is also helping to organize a Portland “free speech” rally on June 4—that one has not been moved, though Wheeler has also criticized it.

The Facebook post reads, in part:

Due to Mayor Wheeler’s inflammatory comments and what we feel is an incitement of violence, he has shamefully endangered every scheduled participant. Consequently, in order to ensure the safety of those who had planned on attending, we have taken the decision to cancel the Portland March Against Sharia.

Despite our desire to proceed, we cannot allow innocent Americans to be harmed by radical and violent anti-American zealots that Mayor Wheeler’s comments have no doubt incited.

All planned participants may join us in Seattle, instead…

Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, says his group is aware of the rally, and said that outreach efforts are planned to counter information about Muslims being expressed by ACT for America.

“Mostly pastors and veterans who just want to be there and show who they know their Muslim neighbors to be,” Bukhari says. “Basically to educated rather than argue with people who are there.”

Bukhari says CAIR-WA does not question ACT for America’s right to rally in Seattle—“Anyone can practice free speech, you can have a KKK rally in downtown with a permit,” he notes—but he says it is important to remember the real-life effect anti-Muslim rhetoric has on people’s lives.

“When we see hate crimes happening—when Muslims are being attacked—we see the same words, same slurs, uttered by attackers that ACT for America is known to use,” he says. “That’s the real-life concern.”

The Seattle March Against Sharia is one of more that 20 planed across the country on June 1o.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACT For America is “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America,” with 280,000 members. Its founder, Brigitte Tudor, has been quoted as saying a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.”

The Seattle March Against Sharia is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. at Westlake Park*.

*The organizers of the event state that the location of the rally is Westlake Center. However, as was pointed out to us, Westlake Center is a privately owned mall. GGP, which manages Westlake Center, says that it does not “support, condone, or authorize” the rally. It’s likely that the rally is actually occurring at Westlake Park, a public plaza, but we’re working to confirm.

dperson@seattleweekly.com

This post has been updated.

More in News & Comment

Sound Publishing file photo
King County Approves Gun Warning Sign Requirement

Warning signs must be posted in all King County gun stores and firing ranges.

Rhino riggers protest outside of the Jay-Z and Beyonce show outside of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field on Oct. 4, 2018. Photo courtesy of IATSE
The Backstage Blues: Riggers Complain of Unfair Labor Practices

Theatrical stage employees come for the music and stay for the thrill. But at what price?

The Seattle City Council voted in favor of the police union’s contract. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
City Council Approves Controversial Police Contract

Despite strong opposition, the majority of councilmembers ratified the agreement.

Rat City Roller Girls Ready to Rumble in 15th Season

New jammers and blockers make debut Nov. 17 at Debutante Brawl

Seattle police car. Photo by Dmitri Fedortchenko, Flickr Creative Commons.
Community Groups and Seattle Police Chief Weigh in On Police Contract

Seven of nine councilmembers will need to pass the agreement to ratify it. What will they decide?

Citizens gather for an interfaith candlelight vigil Nov. 1 at the Snohomish County Courthouse to honor the 11 victims of an attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Photo courtesy of The Herald.
Issaquah Company Hosts Gab, Social Media Favorite of the Far-Right

Website was pulled by GoDaddy after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

The team that advocated for I-1631 at downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Washington Rejects Carbon Fee

Campaign organizers say they will continue pushing for a cleaner future.

The race for Washington’s 8th Congressional District is between Kim Schrier (D) and Dino Rossi (R). File photo
Schrier Leads Rossi in Hotly-Contested 8th Congressional District

Candidates compete for seat vacated by Republican Dave Reichert

Most Read