Muslim activist Linda Sarsour is emerging as one of the more odious figures in the country these days. The Brooklyn-born Palestinian American spoke this week at the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, which is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood. Sarsour, who was one of the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March following President Trump’s inauguration, used language in her address in Chicago which could only be described as inflammatory. She told her audience that the current administration was comprised of white racists who are oppressing the Muslim community. She also trashed the idea of assimilation into American society and stated that her allegiance is to the Muslim community (as opposed to the country). Perhaps worst of all, she invoked that dreaded word, “jihad” as she called for a jihad against the Trump administration.
Sarsour is not a person who will convince Americans that Muslims are a benign presence in America with her words. On the contrary, she has done the Muslim community (at least those who do love this country and live peaceful lives) a gross disservice. That has not stopped the usual suspects on the left from jumping to her defense. Most significantly, they trot out that tired old explanation that jihad actually means an inner struggle by believers to be better Muslims.
This requires some explanation. There are two concepts of jihad within Islam. Islamic texts tell us that when the Prophet Mohammad was returning from a battle, he stated, “Now that the lesser jihad is finished, it is time for the greater jihad.” Muslims interpret this to mean that the lesser jihad was fighting against the enemies of Islam while the greater jihad was striving to be a better Muslim. However, as you study Islamic texts, the overwhelming majority of references to jihad involve fighting the enemies of Islam. Perhaps, most tellingly, one of the most popular books in the Middle East is Hitler’s Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic as “My Jihad”.
Sarsour’s defenders also point out that under President Obama, she was a presidential adviser on religious matters (which many would consider a weak defense). It is true that she organized funds to restore a Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis after it was vandalized last year. On the other hand, many consider her an anti-semite. She is a fierce critic of Israel, which does not automatically make one a Jew-hater, but quotes like “Zionism is incompatible with feminism” and “There is nothing creepier than Zionism” certainly raise questions.
Prior to this latest speech, Sarsour viciously attacked Muslim apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of female genital mutilation, and ACT4America founder Brigitte Gabriel by stating she wished she could take their vaginas away. On the other hand, Sarsour embraces figures like convicted terrorist and soon-to-be deported Rasmieh Odea.
If Sarsour wants to keep using inflammatory and divisive language in furtherance of the Muslim cause, she is free to do so under the First Amendment though calling for a jihad against the President is walking dangerously close to the line in my view. If she thinks her words will gain more acceptance for Muslims and lower suspicions against them, she is sadly mistaken. Her words in Chicago should be condemned by all.
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