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Anti-Sharia Rally Prompts Lively Protest In San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO ( — A demonstration against Sharia law – Islam's legal code -- Saturday in San Bernardino was one of dozens in cities across the U.S. that drew counter-protests by people who said they stoked unfounded fears and a distorted view of the religion.

A small but raucous demonstration against Sharia was held in San Bernardino, where a husband and wife inspired by the Islamic State group killed 14 people and wounded 22 in a 2015 shooting attack.

At about 10 a.m. clusters of protesters and counter-protesters gathered on four corners of South Waterman Avenue and East Orange Show Road at a memorial to the slain. San Bernardino police actively worked to keep opposing groups apart.

Anti-Islamic law demonstrators marched past the Inland Regional Center building where the shootings occurred on Dec. 2, 2015.

Denise Zamora, 39, of Upland said the group wasn't opposed to all Muslims. "We're anti-Sharia. We're anti-radicals," she said.

"It's coming in very slowly, and a lot of the refugees are bringing that ideology here," Zamora said of Shariah. "All of it is just barbaric."

No arrests were made at the San Bernardino rally, and there were no reports of violence, police spokeswoman Eileen Hards said.

But it was noisy, with groups chanting, yelling and waving American flags and posters proclaiming various causes.

"There's an anti-Trump, a pro-Trump, anti-extremists, so there are a variety of messages here," Hards said. "There are so many messages going on that I'm not sure who's who."

The rallies, held in more than two dozen U.S. cities, were organized by ACT for America, which claims Islamic law is incompatible with Western democracy. The organization said it opposes discrimination and supports the rights of those subject to Sharia.

Masih Fouladi with the Council for American-Islamic Relations told CBS2 Friday that groups like ACT are doing nothing but spreading unfounded fears about Muslims.

According to Fouladi, Sharia law is about how Muslims live their lives.

"It's how you get married," Fouladi said. "It's how you draft your will. It's just very core beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment, and that don't conflict with the Constitution or any American principles."

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Seattle, banging drums, cymbals and cowbells behind a large sign saying "Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors."

Participants chanted "No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here" on their way to City Hall, while a phalanx of bicycle police officers separated them from an anti-Shariah rally numbering in the dozens.

In front of the Trump building in downtown Chicago, about 30 people demonstrated against Islamic law and in favor of President Donald Trump, shouting slogans and holding signs that read "Ban Sharia" and "Sharia abuses women." About twice as many counter-protesters marshaled across the street.

A similar scene played out in a park near a New York courthouse, where counter-protesters sounded air-horns and banged pots and pans in an effort to silence an anti-Sharia rally.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the demonstrations were mostly peaceful until some people leaving a rally inside the Capitol encountered counter-protesters outside.

A confrontation that included shoving and punching occurred, The Star Tribune reported. The Minnesota State Patrol separated the groups and appeared to make at least one arrest.

The marches come amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren.

CBS 2's Greg Mills spoke to both sides of the contentious issue at the rally in San Bernardino.

Minutes after the demonstration started, he reported that members of ACT ran across the street to confront the counter demonstration.

Police kept them apart.

Judi Neal already believes Sharia law is being enacted in the United States and she doesn't want to see it spread. That is why she was there as a member of ACT.

"[I'm here] to fight against any Sharia law being enacted in our country."

And Louie Demeo said, "Islam is taking over our countries. They've got these radical ideas."

A woman from the other side -- literally and figuratively -- doesn't think the protesters get it.

"Sharia law is not one thing. Every country has a different version. So, they don't really know what they are protesting," said Crystal Keshawarz.

Police said there were three arrests for vandalism.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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