American Muslims who are disheartened by increasingly fervent attacks on sharia law are planning to assemble en masse this weekend to protest against what they fear are attempts to discriminate against their way of life. This weekend, 15,000 believers are expected to descent upon Hartford, Connecticut, for the 37th annual Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) convention.

The Muslim American Society-sponsored conference, entitled, “Defending Religious Freedom: Understanding Shariah,” will take place from May 26-28. According to Religion News Service, the event is the second largest annual event for Muslims in the U.S., behind the Islamic Society of North America’s annual gathering (the latter event attracts 30,000+ people).

The focus of the event will be on sharia, Islamic law that is intended to govern the lives of believers. The Blaze has covered the opposition that exists to Muslim law here in America numerous times before. As RNS highlights, Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Dakota and Tennessee are among the locations where legislation has been approved to ban judges from considering foreign laws. This, of course, would include sharia law (in Kansas, legislation has not yet been signed by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback).

While politicians see this as a way of protecting the U.S. constitution, others — particularly Muslims who embrace sharia — believe that these laws are discriminatory. Take, for instance, Naeem Baig, the ICNA’s vice president of public affairs, who has some harsh words for those opposed to Islamic law.

“It’s a deep-down hatred of Muslims that motivates. They don’t want to see Muslims in America,” Baig said. “Muslims need to be educated about sharia. There’s a need for the community to better understand what sharia means to us, and how to apply sharia in a society where most people are not of the same faith.”

The conference will focus upon educating Muslims to better understand sharia and how it applies to their lives, among other related sentiment. An advertisement on the conference’s web site reads:

There are more reasons than ever to attend the ICNA-MAS 37th Annual Convention being held May 26 – 28, 2012 (Memorial day weekend) at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. This year’s theme is “Defending Religious Freedom – Understanding Shariah” which is an extension of our 1 year long campaign. It is an educational initiative that hopes to “help the public understand Shariah and counter the rise of Islamophobia in America. The campaign aims to further shift focus from the misnomer “Shariah law” and draw attention to what really is at stake here—your religious freedom.

“The ICNA-MAS convention puts you in front of world renowned scholars with solutions designed specifically to address the issues American Muslims are facing today,” the convention’s web site continues. “Challenge your Islamic knowledge and expertise with a wide array of thought provoking topics and break-out sessions ranging from novice to expert.”

Islamic Circle of North America Hosts Annual Sharia, Islamophobia Conference

While the ICNA is doubling down on sharia, Muslims like Canadian activist Tarek Fatah have come out strongly against Islamic law.

“It has no place in Islam. It has to be totally rejected, because it is the law that gives dictators — it has been dictated by caliphs and sultans to justify their rule over oppressed people,” Fatah recently told The Blaze. ”If Muhammed came around he wouldn’t know what this meant. If he came around, he’d say who the [heck] wrote this up?”

(H/T: RNS)