WASHINGTON — One of the organizers of Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington identifies as a Palestinian Muslim, has expressed support for Sharia law and works as an activist for Muslim causes. She took issue over the weekend with some of those who expressed concern about her efforts, calling them “Islamophobes.”
As previously reported, organizer Linda Sarsour serves as the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, which was founded to combat “the heightened sense of fear and the acts of blatant discrimination aimed at [the Muslim] community” following the 9/11 attacks, according to the organization’s website.
“You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans and credit cards become interest free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” she Tweeted in May 2015.
In 2012, Sarsour Tweeted that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, also known as the 2009 “underwear bomber” as he had smuggled an explosive device in his underwear in an attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight, was really an operative of the American government.
Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim, said in a court statement that he had been “greatly inspired” to carry out the attack by Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
“Underwear bomber was the #CIA all along. Why did I already know that?! Shame on us—scaring the American people,” she wrote.
That same year, Sarsour Tweeted that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” and in 2015, she posted a photo of support for Palestinian rights activists, who were calling for the release of jihadi terrorist Mohammad Allan.
“Free #MohammadAllan,” Sarsour wrote.
Sarsour made several posts on Twitter over the weekend in relation to the Muslims present at the Women’s March, as well as the pro-Muslim statements expressed.
“So many beautiful Muslim sisters at the #WomensMarch on Washington,” she wrote in one post.
A photo she re-Tweeted from Dar Al-Hijrah Youth shows a participant wearing a jacket with the words “A slave of Allah” emblazoned across their back, as well as another participant holding a bracelet bearing the slogan.
On Sunday, Sarsour Tweeted a photo of a toddler at the march holding a sign that read, “Japanese Americans against Muslim registry.”
“This warms my heart,” she wrote.
Sarsour also called those who expressed concern about her Muslim activism “Islamophobes.”
“When the opposition, including Islamophobes, are flooding your timeline with hate—you know you did something right. #womensmarch,” Sarsour asserted.
According to the New York Times, Sarsour is likewise “deeply involved” in the Black Lives Matter movement, and says that her Islamic faith intertwines with her participation in the campaign.
“Black lives don’t matter. But they do in Islam,” she wrote in an article for the Huffington Post in July. “Ramadan fueled me to work harder, bolder and clearer to empathize and engage in courageous action with black sisters and brothers to create a society where black lives truly matter.”
She also told the Islamic Circle of North America, “We are ready to fight harder than we ever have for black sisters and brothers, including our own dear black sisters and brothers in the Muslim community. No more sitting on the sidelines. No more empty outrage. We got you.”
In 2015, when police shot African American Muslim Usaama Rahim after he refused to drop a knife, she opined, “At the end of the day, a black man was shot on a bus stop on his way to work and we should treat this like any other case of police violence.” She also was one of the founders of “Muslims for Ferguson.”
Sarsour is additionally a supporter of the abortion and contraceptive giant Planned Parenthood, and stated that the potential defunding of the organization was one of the main messages of the Women’s March, along with her concerns about the treatment of Muslims.
“[H]ands off the Affordable Care Act—we need our health insurance, hands off Planned Parenthood and our reproductive rights, hands off Muslims, hands off the undocumented. These are really our top messaging lines,” she told MSNBC last week.
Abortion was also marked as one of the “unity principles” outlined on the march website, and only those who aligned with these principles were allowed to sponsor the event.
“We believe in reproductive freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education,” the site reads.
Many of the signs being held by participants showed support for Planned Parenthood or feminist agendas, declaring messages such as “We deserve to be sexual and serious, or whatever we please,” “I stand with Planned Parenthood,” “Our bodies, our minds, our power” and “I am woman, hear me roar.” Some were too explicit or profane to repost—using profanity or vulgarity.
Pro-life groups were not allowed to serve as sponsors of the march because of their disagreement with the “unity principle.” However, a number of women who identify as “pro-life feminists” took to the streets of Washington to declare their message anyway, holding banners and signs such as “Abortion betrays women” and “Real feminists reject abortion.”
The Huffington Post reports that some attendees cussed at the pro-life women, while others thanked them for their participation.
In addition to support for abortion, other platforms for marchers included immigration rights, environmental justice and “LGBTQIA rights.”
“We firmly declare that LGBTQIA rights are human rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes,” the website for the event reads.
A number of secular celebrities joined in the march, including Madonna, Cher, Alicia Keyes, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Whoopie Goldberg, Scarlett Johannson, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson, Drew Barrymore, Lena Dunham, Vanessa Hudgens, and many others.
“I’m angry,” Madonna declared on stage. “Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. But I know that this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair. As the poet W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II, we must love one another or die. I choose love.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also Tweeted in support of the march, writing, “Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values @womensmarch. Important as ever. I truly believe we’re always stronger together.”