WATERBURY/MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A large group of people came together in Waterbury on Saturday for a march against Islamic law, the religious principles followed in many Muslim countries. Counter protesters also showed up nearby. Another event was held at a mosque in Meriden, calling for more dialogue and understanding.
The group Act for America organized the march in Waterbury. It had similar rallies in nearly 30 cities across the country, calling them “March Against Sharia Law.” People dressed in red, white and blue. They held signs to make a point, gathering to speak out against Sharia law.
“It’s in conflict with our U.S. Constitution. It’s in conflict with human rights as well as constitutional rights,” said Steve Bonin, who attended the march.
However, some in the community disagreed with their message. Another rally was held nearby to counter the ACT for America rally. The goal was to get activists and the public together, and to promote love and respect for everyone. Those who attended wanted to let the public know how the ACT for America rally made them feel.
“It’s deeply [offensive] that people are saying USA in the name of Muslims, very hurtful,” said community activist Fahd Syed.
“I would dare to say they have not met a Muslim before,” said Farhan Memon, chairperson of the Council on American Islamic Relations Connecticut Chapter.
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Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman House of Peace Mosque in Meriden hosted an open house on Saturday night. The idea was not to counter the rallies, but to invite the community to come learn more about their faith.
“We’re here to educate and to bridge that gap, and to let people know that the United States Constitution has more aligned with the Sharia than people might understand,” said Zahir Muhammad Mannan, director of outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Meriden.
One of the issues addressed at the march in Waterbury was women’s rights. Many people called for better treatment of women.
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“Sharia law considers women to be second class citizens,” said Bonin. “They have no rights.”
However Muslims say their faith respects women, and that’s something they want the public to know.
“One of the points of true Islam is empowerment and equality of women,” said Mannan.