Ingraham: Left-Wing Activist’s Call for ‘Jihad’ Against Trump ‘Purposefully Incendiary’
LifeZette editor-in-chief slams comments from Women's March organizer 'meant to incite Muslims'
LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham said progressive Muslim activist Linda Sarsour’s call for “jihad” against President Donald Trump’s administration was “purposefully incendiary” and was “meant to incite Muslims” Friday on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Ingraham, who was filling in for host Sean Hannity, sparred with Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi over the meaning behind Sarsour’s use of the word “jihad” in the context of opposing Trump. Sarsour, an organizer of the left-wing Women’s March on Washington, has also encouraged Muslim immigrants to refuse to “assimilate” with U.S. customs and ways of life. In a speech to a Muslim group last week, she claimed “that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad.”
Sarsour added that Muslims "are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or on the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House."
Noting that former President Barack Obama's administration had labeled Sarsour a "champion of change," Ingraham asked the imam if he could defend Sarsour's words in good conscience.
"And I understand from Muslims [that jihad] can mean striving and trying and struggling, but for most Americans to hear 'jihad,' it has different connotations," Ingraham said. "[Sarsour] understands that clearly. She's a sophisticated player. Do you defend what she said about this president and really about this country in that sound bite?"
The imam argued that "jihad" means "to be a better person, more honest, more truthful and more trustworthy," adding that if someone lives "this jihad for ISIS," then they "have different interpretations of it" than the one Sarsour used.
"I think she is expressing her frustration," Elahi said of Sarsour's words.
Ingraham noted that most Americans envision a violent context when they hear the word "jihad."
"Here's what doesn't go over well for most Americans ... Linda Sarsour getting up there and saying 'the fascist, the Islamaphobe white supremacist in the Oval Office.' That is so purposefully incendiary and I would say, if he weren't the president of the United States, he could sue for defamation. Because that's just garbage," Ingraham said.
"That's meant to incite Muslims to whom she's speaking. It certainly isn't meant to build bridges. That is meant to incite, infuriate — infuriate is fine — but incite is not good," Ingraham added. "And when she says 'our goal is not to assimilate,' her goal is Sharia law, is it not?"
The imam skirted the Sharia law question, arguing that Sarsour's frustration is justified because of the changes between how the Obama administration and the Trump administration dealt with Islam. Whereas Obama called Islam a religion of "mercy and compassion," Elahi said, Trump has argued that "Islam hates us" in a radical context.
"Does [Sarsour] sound 'merciful' to you?" Ingraham pushed back. "We don't hear immigrant groups come into the United States traditionally saying, 'We will not assimilate.' Not in the last 50 years."
The imam demurred, saying, "You know, you should talk with Linda herself. I am not a representative of Linda, but the word of 'jihad' that you mentioned is up to interpretation."
Ingraham and Elahi were joined by Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, a national security grassroots organization. Gabriel, a Christian Lebanese immigrant, called Sarsour's rallying cry "very radical" in a way that was "specifically inciting hatred and violence."
"If these words were coming out of any other person, we would have said, 'Well, that really overstepped the lines,'" Gabriel argued. "But coming out of Linda Sarsour, you have to understand her background," Gabriel added, noting that Sarsour comes from a "long line of terrorists" and has connections with radical Muslims. (go to page 2 to continue reading)