January 25 2017
Update: In this original post, I wrote that reports that women's march co-chair supports sharia law in the U.S. cannot be sustantiated.
They can. An eagle-eyed reader sent me this video of Ms. Sarsour lamenting that 22 states in the U.S. ban sharia law (which deprives women of basic human rights--certainly a twist on the "women's rights are human rights" mantra of the march).
It seems that one of the Co-Chairs of the Women's March, Linda Sarsour, is "being accused of having alleged ties to terrorists."
Ms. Sarsour is the head of the Arab American Association of New York. She was an Obama White House "Champion of Change."
The Daily Caller has reported that Sarsour "was recently spotted at a large Muslim convention in Chicago posing for pictures with an accused financier for Hamas, the terrorist group."
The alleged photo took place at a convention of the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America, where Linda Sarsour allegedly had her picture taken with Salah Sarsour, a former operative with the terrorist group Hamas. The Caller said it was "unclear" if the two Sarsours are related but that Linda Sarsour "has suggested" in the past that this is the case. The Caller also said that Linda Sarsour has family ties to Hamas, including two cousins in prison because of activity on behalf of Hamas.
The Daily Caller added:
Salah Sarsour, who is also a board member of American Muslims for Palestine, served as a bodyguard of sorts at the convention for Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar, the daughter of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
If true, this is important information, but I am uncomfortable with the vaguely worded "bodyguard of sorts." Was she or was she not a bodyguard for Erdogan's daughter and, if so, it would be helpful to have an interpretation of what that means.
The Caller reports that Ms. Sarsour was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terrorism case. HLF also was found to have sent money to Hamas. I wish the Caller, whose reporting is generally excellent, had given us the documentary citations for the HLF ties. Again, this is important informnation, and providing an attribution would have been standard practice.
Sarsour's alleged support for sharia law--which deprives women of the most basic rights--is all over the internet. The charge made it into the highly respected The Federalist, which reports that Sarsour "openly advocates for including sharia law in the United States." I found the documentation that Sarsour has advocated for sharia just a bit flimsy. The article did carry two tweets attributed to Sarsour that, if accurate, certainly present an--uh--interesting view of the rights of women and sharia:
You'll know you're living under Sharia Law if suddenly if suddenly all your loans and credit cards become interest free. Sounds nice doesn't it?
10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes, paid. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame.
Needless to say, an organizer of a women's march in D.C. comparing womens' rights in the U.S. to those in Saudi Arabia and finding that it is the U.S. that is deficient is cause for deep concern. At best, it is extremely misguided.
As it happens, without even getting into the issue of sharia (it is not mentioned) or terror ties, a laudatory New York Times profile of Ms. Sarsour last year ("Linda Sarsour Is a Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab") sheds light on Ms. Sarsour's activism:
Only 35, she has already helped to partly dismantle the New York Police Department’s program of spying on the city’s Muslims and has worked with officials in City Hall to close public schools for the observance of two of Islam’s most important holy days, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. From her base at the Arab American Association of New York, the nonprofit group in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where she is the executive director, Ms. Sarsour has taken on such issues as immigration policy, voter registration, mass incarceration, Islamophobia and the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactic. She has emerged in the last few years not only as one of the city’s, and the country’s, most vocal young Muslim-American advocates, but also as a potential--and rare Arab American--candidate for office.
The NYPD program was not one of "spying" on Muslims but provided information aimed at discovering and nipping in the bud terrorist attacks. While we want Muslim children to have time off to celebrate Islamic holidays, closing the public schools is more of a statement than a convenience for kids and their families. Stop and frisk, while not popular with elites, who usually don't live in bad neighborhoods, is a godsend to law-abiding people in the inner city.
The New York Times goes on:
[Sarsour] is deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, having helped to organize an April march from New York to Washington led by a group called Justice League NYC — an offshoot of [Harry] Belafonte’s Gathering for Justice — to honor Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and other black men killed by the police. More recently, as part of a project she calls Respond With Love, she has raised more than $100,000 to help rebuild black churches that burned down, some by arson, after the church massacre in Charleston, S.C.
. . .
Ms. Sarsour’s critics include the anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who has called her an “anti-Semitic Islamic supremacist who wields her religion like a club.” Among Muslims, some have said Ms. Sarsour’s voice, because of its assertiveness and because she is paid (though not a lot) for her work, has occasionally drowned out other worthy voices.
“She’s basically filled the void left by people like myself and other Muslim leaders who are also activists but don’t have the luxury of time to appear on a 10 a.m. CNN show,” said Debbie Almontaser, a New York educator and the board president of the Muslim Community Network. Ms. Almontaser added that modesty — “thinking as a collective, always volunteering others before oneself” — is a core Islamic value.
The sharia claims are unproven. None of what is described as Ms. Sarsour's activism, as described in the New York Times, however, has anything to do with women's rights or promoting opportunities for women. Her prominence, based on the activities reported in the New York Times, illustrates that the feminism as represented by the march has become in many cases an amalgam of style, activism, celebrity, and just about every progressive cause you can think of into the mix. Very little of this will make lives of women better.
Another Muslim woman, former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani, who described herself as both a feminist and Trump voter, decided not to march because the event included sponsors who she felt did not stand up for women's rights in the Islamic world. She wrote in the New York Times:
On the issues I care about as a Muslim, the “Women’s March,” unfortunately, has taken a stand on the side of partisan politics that has obfuscated the issues of Islamic extremism over the eight years of the Obama administration. “Women’s March” partners include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has not only deflected on issues of Islamic extremism post-9/11, but opposes Muslim reforms that would allow women to be prayer leaders and pray in the front of mosques, without wearing headscarves as symbols of chastity.
I'm with her.