The demonstration originally titled the "Million Muslim March" - but renamed the "Million American March Against Fear" in February - attracted a few dozen protesters to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
Fundamentalist Christian counter protesters picketed nearby with signs mocking Islam's prophet, Muhammad, and encouraging conversion as hundreds of bikers drove past, revving their engines to show their patriotism in response to the demonstration.
Most speakers at the event were not Muslim. They said constitutional freedoms are under assault by the government and many questioned in detail the official account of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As protesters and counter protesters gathered on the Mall, biker fans lined 14th Street near the Washington Monument to cheer for the motorcyclists circling the Mall. The bikers came from across the country as part of the hastily organized "2 Million Bikers to D.C." gathering, announced in August after widespread news coverage of the protest under its original name.
Princeton University Professor Cornel West offered bear hugs when he arrived to support the demonstration.
West said he wasn't sure if Muslims were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. "That's a good question," he told Media Research Center reporter Dan Joseph. "I just don't know. ... I think bin Laden had something to do with it," he conceded, but "I'm open to [other theories]."
West stood on stage for nearly 2 hours in 93 degree heat waiting for his turn to speak. When he did, he railed excitedly against U.S. drone warfare and President Barack Obama's plan to launch air strikes against Syria.
"We could have two people here, but if it's right and it's moral and if it's just I want to be here," West said. "We are living in an age of monstrous mendacity. ... a war of aggression [against Syria] is a violation of international law too."
American drone operators who kill civilians, he said, are "gangstas and thugs." Children who die as a result of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, West said, have "the same value as a child in Newtown, Connecticut."
An irate Christian counter protester holding a sign that called Muhammad a "pervert" heckled West from a few hundred feet away.
As West spoke about religious unity, the heckler screeched, "Martin Luther King is burning in hell right now as we speak."
Fire and brimstone were on the lips of many, but not all, Christian evangelists who showed up after hearing that Muslims were intending to congregate on the Mall.
Terrance Boone, a young member of McLean Bible Church from Severna Park, Md., amicably handed out Christian tracts with around 10 others from the church. The event seemed like a good opportunity to proselytize, he said.
Some bikers parked near the Mall and walked over to see the hubbub that inspired them to traverse the country. Most appeared bored and wandered off after a few minutes.
After the speeches were over, around two dozen event attendees began their march toward Congress as around a dozen Christians holding signs and large white crosses followed behind them. One bellowed repeatedly into a megaphone, "Muhammad is a pedophile, Muhammad is a liar."
Hostility peaked in front of Congress, where the counter protesters were joined by a large group of bikers who had parked along 3rd Street.
Scores of U.S. Capitol Police guarded the protesters as angry bikers shouted "USA!" and "get out!" When the demonstrators moved toward the White House, bikers revved their motorcycles to drown out chants of "12 years of war, no more war!"
Despite the testy exchanges, two Christian activists were wooed to join the Muslim-initiated protest earlier in the day.
"That's the only thing I'm protesting: fear," said Brian Chamberlin, who drove from Tennessee with Jason Rogers of Alabama. Jesus, they said, was the proper remedy for fear.
Marvin Holmes, an elderly Baptist pastor from Pike, N.Y., pelted out a more apocalyptic message on a megaphone until police instructed him to put it away around noon. "We thought there were going to be enough people to preach to," he complained.
He wasn't alone in his fervency. "You must repent, only the blood of Jesus can wash away sin," shouted a woman at non-Christian protesters.
Kevin Barrett, a skeptic of the official 9/11 account and a key event organizer, told attendees he'd like to have a similar gathering on the Mall every year on Sept. 11.
"We want to come back every year," he said, speculating that at some future point one million Americans might turn out against post-9/11 government policies.
The Missouri-based American Muslim Political Action Committee called for the protest in 2012. It was renamed in February, when non-Muslim groups asked to join.
Jewish Americans joined both protesters and counter protesters. David Hershbaum of Arlington, Va., supported the protest and read a verse from Psalms on stage while David Little of Florida - who flew in for the event - held an Israeli flag in opposition.
Christians, too, spoke against fear and against post-9/11 policies. West loudly said "I love Jesus" and retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard spoke about working with Muslim and Jewish clerics to receive the remains of 9/11 victims in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
"Silence is a parenthesis around these occasions," Packard said, expressing his satisfaction that this year was different. He welcomed the counter protesters and offered a prayer. "Oh God, Allah, we thank you for this day, as hot as it is," he said.