From the Trump administration’s attempted Muslim ban to ignorant views on sharia law, Islamophobia is undeniably alive and well in the United States. And now, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro is under fire after suggesting that Representative Ilhan Omar can’t fulfill her duties to the country because she’s a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. And even the network that employs her is disavowing her comments. On the March 9th episode of Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro opened the show by suggesting that Omar—a practicing Muslim—holds anti-Israel attitudes because of her religious beliefs. The Fox News host then used that as a jumping off point to question Omar’s ability to do her job in general.
Pirro’s comments outraged many, including her own colleagues. The New York Times reports that Fox News producer Hufsa Kamal tweeted at Pirro: “can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough? You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself.” (Kamal’s Twitter account is private.)
Others weighed in, too.
On March 10th, the network itself spoke up. In a statement received by CNN, Fox News wrote:
In a statement to The Times, Pirro denied that her comments were anti-Muslim:
“Sharia law” is often invoked to stoke Islamophobia. NBC news notes that sharia is “not a list of rules, but rather a set of principles on aspects of life, including marriage, divorce, finance and rituals” derived from the Quran. According to the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, between 2010 and 2016, more than 200 conservative, anti-sharia bills were introduced in the United States.
Regardless of what one thinks of Omar’s personal politics (she has admittedly made some potentially problematic statements in the past), doubting someone’s ability to do their job—as well as doubting an American’s commitment to the constitution because of their religion—is dangerous. It also inherently implies that one must be Christian to uphold American values…which is in direct contradiction to the freedom of religion that this country was founded on. Perhaps Pirro should take a minute to revisit her U.S. history…because her grasp on constitutional law seems more than shaky.