The anti-Muslim group ACT for America is holding what it says will be at least 28 events across the country on Saturday as part of what it’s calling a “March Against Sharia – March for Human Rights.”
Organizers claim that the marches are meant to highlight issues like genital mutilation, honor killings and LGBTQ rights. However, ACT’s publicity for the event makes clear that rather than confronting these issues, organizers are hoping to use them to paint American Muslims with a broad brush and to bolster President Trump’s anti-Muslim policies.
In a video publicizing the marches, ACT founder Brigitte Gabriel tells supporters, “This is your chance to show the fake news media what you think of their open-borders zealotry, to show spineless D.C. politicians what you think of their P.C. pandering, to show President Trump that you stand behind his necessary travel ban from terror-ridden nations.”
Gabriel tells activists that this is their “chance to show lame-stream media and anti-American terrorist enablers like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU that we will not be silenced” and to tell “our enemies” that “[we] strongly stand behind our Second Amendment rights and [are] committed to stand behind our president to defeat you.”
She added a message for immigrants and refugees: “And as for immigrants and refugees to America bringing the same practices you supposedly escaped, we say to you, the women’s suffrage movement fought for our rights, not so you can genitally mutilate young American girls in the name of culture or religion or kill women in the name of honor in Texas, Georgia or New York. We will protect American girls from your barbarity. If you want to live among us, adopt our culture, speak our official language—English!—and obey our Constitution.”
The marches are being organized by Virginia activist Scott Presler, who is a cofounder of the group Gays for Trump, and will feature members of the racist “Alt-Right” as well as the militia group Oath Keepers, which is recruiting its members to provide security for the marches. One event in Arkansas is being organized by a neo-Nazi; after SPLC reported on its involvement, Presler issued a statement distancing ACT from the Arkansas event.
Gabriel has urged activists to resist Muslims seeking public office because a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.” Last summer, when then-candidate Trump got into a war of words with a Muslim family who had lost a son in the U.S. Army, Gabriel claimed that the deceased soldier’s father had to have been lying about being both a patriotic American and a believing Muslim.
The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart ran through some of Gabriel’s other greatest hits back in March, when she was boasting that she had scored a meeting at the White House:
[ACT] has condemned cities with large Muslim populations for serving halal food in public schools. In 2013, its Houston chapter urged members to “protest” food companies that certify their meat as compliant with Islamic dietary law. ACT tries to dissuade Jews and Christians from conducting interfaith dialogue with Muslims. And in state after state, it has lobbied state legislatures and school boards to purge textbooks of references that create “an inaccurate comparison between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.” Gabriel’s agenda isn’t subtle. She wants to stigmatize, and to some degree criminalize, the practice of Islam.
As her White House meeting suggests, Gabriel is one of the many fringe figures who have found themselves suddenly close to those in power with the ascendance of Trump. In December, she told her group’s members that “ACT for America has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views and suggested policies with respect to radical Islam,” specifically citing the group’s relationship with Michael Flynn, the since-fired national security adviser, and CIA director Mike Pompeo.