WASHINGTON (JTA) — An array of liberal Jewish groups has signed on to letters to 29 mayors urging them to denounce planned “anti-sharia” marches this weekend.
“Timed during the Islamic month of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world fast during the daylight hours, these protests have been disingenuously branded ‘March Against Sharia’ and explicitly target Muslims at a time when hatred and bigotry has swept the nation,” said the letters, which went out Thursday to the mayors of cities including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Indianapolis, New York and Orlando.
Sharia refers to Muslim religious law. Among the 129 signatories to the letters, which were organized by a group called Muslim Advocates, are the Union for Reform Judaism, Bend the Arc, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of Jewish Women and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups.
ACT for America — an organization that calls itself “the NRA of national security” — has organized the marches, which are set to take place Saturday in 28 cities across the U.S. The non-profit is billing the marches as “against sharia law and for human rights.”
On Thursday, ACT for America canceled a scheduled march in Arkansas after it learned a partner organization there was white supremacist. “We stand firmly opposed to any actions by individuals or organizations that seek to attack or intimidate based on race, religion, or sexual orientation,” the organization said in a statement.
Jewish groups across the spectrum have generally opposed bids to ban sharia law, arguing that Muslim Americans apply sharia in much the same way Orthodox Jewish communities apply halacha, or Jewish law, through religious courts: to grant divorces and to settle disputes of religious matters, while always deferring to civil courts.
Jewish groups that address civil society issues, like the ADL, have also said that the movement to ban sharia often masks an anti-Muslim bias.