On her Saturday evening program, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro raised questions about what motivates Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism. It was a legitimate question given the Muslim Somali-American’s blatant anti-Semitic statements and association with Islamists.
“Omar wears a hijab, which, according to the Quran 33:59, tells women to cover so they won’t get molested,” Judge Jeanine said. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
Later in the show, Judge Jeanine asked her a similar question. But no conclusion was ever drawn. Neither of her guests knew the answer.
Considering Omar is a Muslim elected official who openly embraces anti-Semitism and raises money for Islamist fronts of the Muslim Brotherhood, it was reasonable for the judge to question what we should make of her decision to wear a hijab. I say this as a pluralist Muslim who observes Islam but is at war with Islamism.
The judge broached a topic that America has debated since its founding. The fitness of American Muslims to hold elected office — especially the Oval Office — was first debated in a state-by-state ratification battle from 1787 to 1788. They ultimately resolved the question by deciding not to impose a religious test for elected officials.
However, many Americans are still asking the question today. I’m a practicing Muslim who follows Sharia as Islam intended — not as Islamists have hijacked it — and often find myself answering it.
One former presidential candidate, House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson strongly raised the same question in his own campaign: Can a Muslim observing Sharia hold the American constitution sacrosanct? Then-candidate Ben Carson thought the answer was “no,” a position I disputed.
The judge also asked if Omar’s hijab (which she wears as a headscarf pinned to her hair but exposing her face) indicated that she placed ideology above religion.
The immediate, hysterical condemnation of the judge first on social media and later by other media was a direct manifestation of the encroaching tide of Islamism. That’s even more true of the shockingly strong condemnation handed down by Fox News’ leadership.
This is how Islamism chills discourse.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 11, 2019
Certainly, many American Muslims do wear the hijab merely as a religious symbol of modesty, though the Quran mandates the hijab only for the revered wives of the Prophet Muhammad and not for ordinary Muslim women. In the lifetime of the prophet, the hijab (which actually means curtain) was a cloth room divider in the prophet’s mud-walled, one-room home to keep his womenfolk in private and away from the public. Today, many Muslims around the world have taken it to mean a hair covering.
There are many debates within and outside of Islam about the veil, the hijab, the niqab (the face covering), the burka (which submerges the whole body), the abbayya (which similarly covers the body, and which women are mandated by law to wear in Saudi Arabia), and Iran’s chador — which Iranian women have been required to wear since the country’s revolution.
Factories manufacturing cloth for veils are being shut down in Morocco for fear of radicalization. In many regions, the burqa has been banned — such as in Muslim Tajikistan and Indonesia. The Chechen Republic has also banned the black hijab; only head-coverings compatible with Chechen tradition are allowed. Other hijabs are considered by the government to be signs of radicalization.
A century ago on Turkey, Muslim secular democrat Kemal Ataturk placed a ban on any and all Islamic head-coverings — inside government buildings, schools and universities. Today’s Muslim Brotherhood President Recep Erdogan reversed the ban, and has been lionized by his Islamist supporters for doing so.
If many Muslim-majority governments recognize that some forms of veiling — particularly the burka — are associated with Islamist radicalization, why can’t we question the meaning of a hijab in the United States?
For some reason, a Christian, Lebanese-American network host — whose parents came from the Middle East — has been condemned for broaching the topic.
In full disclosure, I have enjoyed the hugely influential platform provided by Judge Jeanine and by Fox News. But as a pluralist Muslim, I am fearful that we are losing public forums where difficult questions can be raised. If we cannot ask these questions on American television, there may be few places in the world we can ask them.
America is losing sight of itself, and it serves Islamists particularly well.
Qanta A. Ahmed (@MissDiagnosis) is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Committee on Combating Contemporary Anti-Semitism Through Testimony at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.