by Devin Fehely

SANTA CLARA (KPIX) — Anti-Shariah protesters said their demonstration in Santa Clara and San Jose Saturday was organized in response to what they consider to be an existential threat to American democracy.

“I’m very concerned that there are places in the United States where’s there’s a push to have Shariah law implemented,” said protester Howard Myers.

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Shariah is a set of religious laws, part of the tradition of Islam.

But organizers of a counter-demonstration right across the street said the protesters’ fears are unfounded and their beliefs bigoted.

“The idea that there are Muslims in America trying to impose Shariah law is absurd. Really if anything, we’re at risk of fascism being imposed on America,” said Raphael Kadaris, speaking for a group called Refuse Fascism.

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Police tried to keep the opposing demonstrations mostly separate, each group confined to their its own street corner.

“There are no moderate Muslims. They are here to kill, steal and destroy America,” a protester named Mary told KPIX.

But the counter-protesters say if the opponents of Shariah law are truly concerned about religious intolerance, they need look no further than the mirror.

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“We all need to unite to get something done in this country. Our education system needs to improve. Our health care system needs to improve. Instead of that, we spend all our time hating each other — creating divisions,” Green Party spokeswoman Nadia Nouri said.