WASHINGTON – A leading American civil rights group called on people of all faiths and backgrounds to “push back” against an online smear campaign targeting Linda Sarsour using #IStandWithLinda hashtag against recent smear campaign targeting the nationally-known and respected Muslim community activist.
“This manufactured ‘controversy’ targeting Linda Sarsour, one of the American Muslim community’s most respected activists and leaders, demonstrates once again that Islamophobes will use falsehoods and distortions in an attempt to marginalize and delegitimize Muslims who gain national prominence or influence,” Roula Allouch, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) board chair, said in a statement on Friday, July 7.
“Islamophobes first distort and hijack mainstream Islamic terms such as ‘jihad,’ then exploit the distortions they have created to target Muslim leaders. These smear campaigns have very real and negative consequences for the safety of those targeted and for the security of our nation, which is harmed by such divisive and un-American tactics.
“We urge Americans of all faiths and backgrounds to push back against this campaign of hate and defamation using #IStandWithLinda.”
Sarsour, who was an organizer of the post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington, has been targeted by right-wing and Islamophobic extremists in a manufactured “controversy” over remarks referencing “jihad” she made recently at a national Islamic convention in Illinois.
In that speech, Sarsour related the well-known Islamic tradition (hadith) about a person who asked Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, “What is the best form of jihad, or struggle?” Sarsour quoted the Prophet Muhammad, who said the best “jihad” is “a word of truth” to an unjust ruler.
The Washington Post noted in an article about this manufactured controversy: “Jihad is a central concept in Islam, and the Arabic word literally translates as ‘struggle’ or ‘striving.’
“While the word is indeed used by some to refer to a physical military struggle to defend Islam, most Muslims use it to refer to a personal, spiritual effort to follow God, live out one’s faith and strive to be a better person,” the paper read.