Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday questioned whether Rep. Ilhan Omar’s use of a hijab, a head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, signaled that she held beliefs that are “antithetical” to the Constitution.
Pirro made the comments during an opening statement for her show “Justice with Judge Jeanine” that focused on the freshman Minnesota Democrat’s recent controversial criticisms of Israel, which were widely condemned as anti-Semitic. Pirro suggested that Omar, who is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, was driven to make her remarks because of her religion.
“Think about this: She’s not getting this anti-Israel sentiment doctrine from the Democrat Party. So if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from?” Pirro said.
“Think about it. Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Quran 33:59, tells women to cover so they won’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” she asked.
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According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Sharia is a code of conduct, principles and rituals derived from the Quran that is interpreted and practiced in a number of ways. It is incorporated into the legal code in many Muslim nations. Critics have expressed concerns that Sharia is incompatible with Western democracy and that it is inherently opposed to women’s rights. Many states in the U.S. have adopted legislation explicitly forbidding the application of Sharia in legal decisions.
Its defenders, such as Palestinian rights activist Linda Sarsour, argue that non-Muslims are not required to follow Sharia and that Islam tells its followers to obey secular laws.
Pirro’s comments drew condemnation on social media. Many critics pointed out that the wearing of a hijab, which is common among Muslim women, is protected under the First Amendment as religious speech and is not a predictor of how someone interprets the Quran.
Others pointed to the irony of Pirro questioning Omar’s loyalty based on her religion when one of the chief things Omar has been criticized for is invoking old tropes about the suspected “dual loyalty” of American Jews.
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Since taking office in January, Omar has come under fire for tweets and comments in which she implied money from pro-Israel groups was stifling debate about the treatment of Palestinians and that those groups push lawmakers toward “allegiance” to a foreign government.
Omar “unequivocally” apologized for her tweets about the pro-Israel lobby and last week, the House passed a resolution condemning hate in response to Omar’s comments. But the resolution – which condemned both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and failed to call out Omar by name – did not go far enough for some.
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism?” asked Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., in a speech Thursday from the House floor.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was one of 24 House members to vote against the resolution. During an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney accused the Democrats of “enabling anti-Semitism.”
“I decided to vote against it because I think it was really clearly an effort to actually protect Ilhan Omar, to cover up her bigotry and anti-Semitism,” Cheney said.
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