After canceling Richmond event, anti-Muslim group plans ‘March Against Sharia’ in Virginia Beach

by | May 30, 2017 | VIRGINIA POLITICS

A group known for spreading anti-Islamic legislation and sentiment across the country is holding a series of rallies in June and Virginia Beach’s Mt. Trashmore is on the list as a site set to host one of these events.

The group, ACT for America, was created by Christian Lebanese immigrant Brigitte Gabriel. Gabriel has been working since the mid 00’s to “preserve American culture and to keep this nation safe.”

Those efforts often manifest as state-level legislative work, most famously as a series of laws which aimed to ban Sharia law from being accepted in local court systems.

These laws, which failed across the nation, were unconstitutional for their favoring of one religion over another, and as John Marshall Law School’s Steven D. Schwinn put it for Jurist back in 2015:

The bans do not protect against the undue influence of foreign or international law upon our own domestic law and they do not protect against any real threat to individual rights. At their best, they are a solution in search of a problem. At their worst, however, they alienate politically unpopular groups and gratuitously condemn their beliefs.

However, the group’s legislative failures seem to be part of their mission which is to drum up anti-Muslim sentiment.

“If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” David Yerushalmi, part of ACT’s legal team, told the New York Times in 2011. “The purpose was heuristic — to get people asking this questions, ‘What is Shariah?’”

Beyond ACT’s role in organizing the events, former Trump and Corey Stewart campaign member Scott Pressler, a Virginia Beach resident who helped propagate the “Gays for Trump” slogan back in 2016, has been coordinating these events.

Richmond’s Capital Square was among the localities set to host a rally, however a post on the event’s Facebook page said the massive amount of interest forced them to cancel the event.

“We have had so many people confirmed to going that we won’t have enough room to rally in Richmond,” wrote Pressler. At the time of publishing the event had 26 people confirmed. “We are consolidating this march with our march in Virginia Beach. We not only have a loud PA system, but Mount Trashmore Park can accommodate hundreds.”

Speakers for the VA Beach event include Dr. Mohammed Hamzepour, founder of the Iranian American Patriots, which appears to be a Manassas, VA, based Donald Trump support group

“Mr. Trump emphasizes the differences between extremist Islamists and peaceful Muslims,” reads a section of their website touting promises made by Trump and calling themselves “Trump’s Iranian-America coalition.” “… It is our priviledge [sic] to inform the community of Trump’s constructive policies toward the people of Iran and the entire region.”

While VA Beach will host one of the protests, the largest event is set for New York City where Pressler is set to speak along side far-right militia leader Frank Morganthaler, VP of the New York State Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers are a national anti-government militia who have called for Sen. John McCain to be hung for treason, and called into question the accuracy of canned food expiration dates.

All of this anti-Islam effort comes on the tails of a recent attack in Portland that left two dead and one injured at the hands of Jeremy Joseph Christian. Christian was reportedly berating a Muslim American woman on the MAX train system when three men attempted to intervene. Christian then reportedly stabbed the men before running off the train to be apprehended by police moments later.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, one of the men who was stabbed by Christian, reportedly told paramedics ‘Tell everyone on this train I love them’ before dying from his wounds.

The event, happening June 10th, also coincides with that Islamic holy time of Ramadan, a month long time of fasting which commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.

You can find out more about the June 10th event here.

top photo via Scott Pressler/March against Sharia Facebook page

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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