State Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate for governor, joined an Islamophobic march over the weekend, posing with members of an extremist militia group called the III Percent Security Force afterwards.
The so-called “March Against Sharia Law” took place as part of a nationwide effort — led by ACT for America — to promote anti-Islam sentiments and stoke fears about Muslims.
Groups like ACT for America and the III Percent militia use people’s ignorance around Shari’a in order to cultivate fear and hate. In fact, the III Percent (also often called “3 percent” or “3%”) group led the way last year fighting against a mosque going up in Newtown County, about an hour southeast of Atlanta. ACT for America is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It’s not acceptable for political candidates in this state to promote these harmful, Islamophobic ideologies or to align themselves with this kind of hate.
Unfortunately, Williams is just one candidate who identifies with Trump’s hateful ideologies and fear-mongering. The fact is that there isn’t a single conservative candidate for Georgia’s highest office who has the guts to stand up to Trump, even as the world watches his presidency unravel.
— Hatewatch (@Hatewatch) June 10, 2017
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracked the event and had this to report:
Republican Georgia State Senator and candidate for governor Michael Williams addressed the rally, calling on attendees to “unite against Sharia law.”
“Overseas, in Europe, and in other places, they are throwing people off of buildings, they are decapitating people, because they do not believe what they should believe,” Williams said. Williams also posed with the III Percent militia members.
Shari’a is a set of recommended principles and practices for Muslims to voluntarily undertake to strengthen their own religious practice and sense of connection to a higher power, and not some scary, hateful legal system one religious group is trying to impose on everyone.
“ACT for America has no idea what Islam teaches, much less what Sharia actually means,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR Georgia, in a press release after the event. “Like canon law in Catholicism and halakha in Judaism, sharia simply refers to the rules that Muslims follow, from praying five times a day to tithing annually to fasting during Ramadan.”
The wonderful folks over at Muslims for Progressive Values offer up some great information about what Shari’a is (and is not), as well as how “Shari’a Law” is a bit of a misnomer, and is a relatively quick and easy read for anyone who wants to learn more about this aspect of Islam.
CAIR Georgia invited Williams to “meet with Georgia Muslims so that we can clear the air and build bridges of understanding.” I certainly hope Williams takes up this offer, because leaders need to understand and respect the diversity of faiths and traditions that are present in this state. Fear mongering has no place.