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The Whitewashing of Linda Sarsour

The world must be upside down when liberal media outlets celebrate Linda Sarsour as a courageous Muslim feminist fighting against the evil forces of the far-right. “Feminist activist Linda Sarsour has become one of the far right’s favorite targets,” Newsweek tweeted on Saturday. The same week, The New York Times ran a piece headlined, “A Muslim-American activist’s speech raises ire even before it’s delivered,” depicting Sarsour as a victim of the anti-free speech crowd.

The whitewashing of Sarsour by liberal media outlets is quite extraordinary given her controversial record as an activist. Although she has over the years deleted many of her most notorious comments, the picture that emerges is that of anything but a feminist and defender of free speech.

“Sharia law is reasonable and once u read into the details it makes a lot of sense. People just know the basics,” Sarsour wrote on social media in 2011. That would be the same fundamentalist Islamic code that is enslaving, mutilating, and killing hundreds of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims across the Islamic world. Let’s go, as Linda demands, into details for a moment.

Brunei, a small oil-rich sultanate bordering Malaysia and the South China Sea, known as a popular tourist’s destination, is currently in the process of implementing full Sharia law for all citizens regardless of religious denomination. Draconian punishments such as amputation of hands for theft and floggings for indecent behavior have already been initiated. Phase three is expected to come into effect in 2018 and includes the most severe punishments. Adultery, abortion, homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy will all be punishable by death, including stoning.

Now that we have more gory details than most of us wanted to digest, perhaps Linda can explain what exactly is “reasonable” about chopping off limbs and stoning women to death.

Especially since she has named herself the gatekeeper who’s deciding who can be a feminist and who can’t. Sarsour recently stated that those who identify as Zionist can’t be feminist because they are ignoring the rights of Palestinian women. That seems rich coming from a supporter of the inescapably misogynistic Sharia law.

Zionism is the belief that Jews, like any other people, deserve a homeland. In other words, acknowledging the state of Israel’s right to exist — the country with the best record, by far, on women’s rights in the entire region.

Sarsour’s support for strict Islamic laws doesn’t stop with Sharia. Sarsour is also a well-known advocate for the hijab, a piece of cloth she celebrates as a symbol of liberation, usually with the support of misguided third wave feminists.

But wearing the hijab is no achievement. In the West, women are free to wear whatever they like. It is the beauty of a free society. And a free society shouldn’t celebrate a symbol that in many parts of the world stands for a culture of dehumanization. Ask Iranian women forced into a modesty culture by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Or their sisters suffering under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Or the Yazidi minority enslaved by Islamic State in Iraq. For them, religious modesty codes are no sign of liberation. They are the epitome of their oppression.

But Sarsour has little regard for victims of Islamic extremism, as she demonstrated with her crass and obnoxious abuse directed at other activists. “Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could take their vaginas away- they don’t deserve to be women,” Sarsour wrote on Twitter in 2011.

Ali, who was born a Muslim in Somalia, escaped an arranged marriage and was subjected to female genital mutilation. She has since become one of the leading voices of the ex-Muslim movement. “She hates me because I expose what Sharia law is,” Ali said in response to Sarsour in an interview on Fox News. ”And what Sharia law is, is what the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is doing,” she added.

Although Sarsour has since deleted her comment, her views on female genital mutilation remain evasive. She recently refused to answer a question on the subject because it was asked by a “white male” student at Dartmouth College. The audience applauded her.

Imagine for a moment a white male student refusing interaction with Sarsour, a brown Muslim woman, based on the color of her skin. The liberal media would have run extra editions on how Sarsour, the brave Muslim feminist, had become the subject of vile racist abuse by the far-right. But apparently racism is a one way street.

In a just world, criticism of Sarsour wouldn’t be about identity politics anyway. She would be condemned by left and right as a matter of principle – a united moral opposition to her amoral views. But the world is not just and so the whitewashing of Sarsour continues.

Linda Sarsour is not a feminist. She supports a culture that is forcing millions of women into religious slavery. She is a false apostle selling her regressive views to a blinded liberal audience.

Enough of it.

Signed,

A true feminist

Julie Lenarz is a senior fellow at The Israel Project and the executive director of the Human Security Centre, an independent foreign policy think tank based in London. She tweets at @msjulielenarz

[Photo: Festival of Faiths / Wikimedia]