Over the July 4th weekend, Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who’s become wildly popular with the Left, seemed to suggest waging a “jihad” against the “tyrant” she most closely associates with President Donald Trump and his administration.
During her speech at the 54th Annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention in Chicago, Sarsour implored her audience to remain outraged at this administration at every single possible moment.
“Why sisters and brothers, why are we so unprepared. Why are we so afraid of this administration and the potential chaos that they will ensue on our community?” Sarsour told the crowd citing the examples of all the travel bans that the administration has unveiled.
The line in question that is sparking controversy came when Sarsour retold a story about the Prophet Muhammad responding to a question about the best form of jihad.
“Our beloved Prophet said to him, ‘A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad.'” Sarsour said. “And I hope, that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad.”
Let’s pause here for a moment because the Arabic word “jihad,” which is a highly misunderstood concept among those who are at least familiar with Islam, simply means “struggle.” Greater jihad, as it’s known in Islam, is the spiritual struggle one deals with internally against sin. Lesser jihad is known as the struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam. Terrorists who commit brutal atrocities in the name of Islam (i.e. Islamic State or Al-Qaeda) have co-opted the term jihad (particularly the definition of lesser jihad) to justify their horrific actions.
In an effort to clarify her comments, Sarsour took to Twitter and said that right-wing sites were selectively editing her comments.
Right wing tries to demonize my leadership. Editing videos is their favorite pasttime. My full speech at ISNA https://t.co/4dcfC5pvC4— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) July 6, 2017
Sarsour is actually right in that her comments were edited. This is a video that the Reagan Battalion posted on Twitter, and you can see the obvious edits in between her comments.
While I understand the sentiment that Sarsour is trying to express in terms of speaking “truth to power,” it works both ways. Sarsour is seen as a very powerful figure in the American Muslim community, and has been moving towards the mainstream in the wake of Donald Trump getting elected president. She was a co-founder of the Women’s March in January, and can be seen at a plethora of anti-Trump protests.
The problem with Sarsour’s rhetoric is that she is using a term that automatically creates tension and animosity between Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s the type of animosity that the Women’s March created when they barred Pro-Life women’s groups from marching with them. In a similar token, gay pride marchers waving Jewish flags were told to leave in Chicago.
The Left keeps talking about unity and speaking truth to power, but at every opportunity they have to do those things, they fail miserably.
Sarsour was a Bernie Sanders surrogate during the Democratic primaries and was immensely critical of the Obama administration, saying his administration was “terrible” on civil rights. And she’s right, Obama’s policies were arguably more harmful to Muslims living abroad than Trump’s at the moment. Yet, she still accepted an award from his White House as a “Champion of Change” in 2011. If she spoke truth to power, it obviously didn’t work.
In addition to expanding the drone war that’s killed thousands of innocent Muslims, Obama implemented a travel ban on Iraq, and mapped out the blueprint of the travel ban that President Donald Trump began enforcing after he was sworn into office.
But under a President Bernie Sanders, literally none of this would change. Sanders has said on the campaign trail that he would use drones to fight terrorism, given all the collateral damage it has caused.
One of Sarsour’s biggest plights as a Palestinian-American is the fight against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A President Bernie Sanders would not move the needle even slightly in the direction she wants, and even now throws Palestinians under the bus.
I’m not going to sit here and give Linda Sarsour career advice because while I haven’t met her, I know people who know her well, including friends and family. But her version of being “unapologetically Muslim” is reckless and undermines her overall message, it doesn’t help bring anyone into her camp, and if anything, alienates them instead.
Watch her full speech below: