(CNSNews.com) – Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour urged a group of Muslims demonstrating outside the White House on Sunday to support Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) – “the best that our community has to offer” – and to prepare in the 2020 election to “say no to fascism,” bigotry and Islamophobia.
Sarsour called on Muslims to pray during Ramadan for Omar, fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) – like Omar an outspoken critic of President Trump – and other community leaders and activists.
“Sister Ilhan Omar is the best that our community has to offer: She’s black, she’s Somali, a former refugee,” she said. “She’s bold, she’s unapologetic, she’s anti-war and anti-imperialist.”
“She’s a supporter of the [anti-Israel] boycott, divestment, sanction movement,” Sarsour continued. “She stands with poor people. She stands with the most marginalized people in America. And she represents everything that is beautiful about Islam.”
“We are with Ilhan Omar!” a few of the demonstrators yelled.
Sarsour said American Muslims, in their conversations and in the way they use social media, should stand with Omar.
With Ramadan approaching, she continued, Muslims should “make du’a [prayers of supplication] for Sister Rashida and Sister Ilhan and all of our community leaders and all those activists and organizers who are sacrificing to defend our rights to be Muslims in America.”
Sarsour was addressing mostly participants of the just-ended annual joint conference of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and Muslim American Society (MAS). Sarsour was a speaker at the convention, held about a mile from the White House.
Omar has stoked controversy with comments insinuating that the pro-Israel lobby was paying U.S. politicians to be pro-Israel and that pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers have dual loyalties to Israel, and with comments interpreted by critics as playing down the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Trump’s sharp reaction on Twitter to the 9/11 comments prompted supporters to rally round her on social media, using hashtags like #IstandwithIlhan.
Sarsour also had some pointers for Muslims about the 2020 elections, which she called “the most important election of your lifetime.”
“Because this is not an election about choosing who the next president of the United States is. This is about an election to say no to fascism, no to racism, no to bigotry, no to Islamophobia, no to xenophobia.”
She urged Muslims to register to vote, and to “go proudly into that ballot box and cast a vote against bigotry and hate.”
Sarsour said many people try to paint the Muslims community as “anti-American” but she rejected that.
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” she said. “We as American Muslims love our country so much that we work every single day to make our nation truly great.”
Outlining what needs to be done, Sarsour cited issues in healthcare and education, before adding, “we’re refusing refugees, we’re criminalizing asylees, we have unarmed black people in our communities who continue to get killed at the hand of law enforcement and in senseless gun violence.”
“Our country has the potential to be the greatest nation on earth, and we everyday as Muslims will wake up to make this nation stand up to its original ideals.”
Sarsour, co-founder of the advocacy group MPower Change and national co-leader of the Women’s March, has herself been accused of flirting with anti-Semitism, in part through her association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose publicly-stated views on Jews and Israel have drawn widely condemnation.
The Farrakhan issue and others have put Sarsour and fellow Women’s March co-leaders Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez in the spotlight, and caused splits in the movement over the past year.
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