Conservative news sites are targeting activist Linda Sarsour again, this time for using the word jihad in a speech to a mainly Muslim audience.
Speaking in Chicago at the annual Islamic Society of North America convention over the weekend, Sarsour, an organizer of Januarys Womens March, discussed what it means to be a patriot in the United States.
In her speech, which was posted online Monday, Sarsour discussed leaders like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali who helped shift culture by being unapologetically themselves.
These are people who dissented against our government and against the very policies that oppress the community that they came from, she said.
The word jihad has long beenmisused and misunderstood by both Muslim extremists and people seeking to spread hatred against Muslims. But for the majority of the worlds 1.6 billion Muslims, jihad is a word that literally means to struggle. Its a concept within Islam that represents a commitment to serve God, and to be good to yourself and your neighbors. It can be personal, like struggling to get through a rough workday, or overarching, like striving to seek justice for all people.
As Sarsour recounted in her speech, the Prophet Muhammad is said to have describedthe best form of jihad as a word of truth in front of a tyrant, ruler or leader.
I hope that we when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, she went on. That we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or in the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.
In an article that emphasized Sarsours relationships with the Democratic Party, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),the conservative site RealClearPolitics accused the activist of calling on Muslims to form jihad against President Donald Trump.
Sarsour said such framing of her speech aims to play off the lack of knowledge that ordinary Americans have of Islam.
They are targeting me because I am an unapologetic Muslim American and because I am an effective leader, she said in an email to HuffPost.
Muslim activists and organizations have worked to educate the public about the true meaning of jihad since the attacks of Sept. 11,2001, when the term entered mainstream awareness in the U.S. There have beenbus advertisements,videos, blogsand social media campaignsaimed at educating people about the words proper meaning.
The response to Sarsours comments this week, however, shows that the misunderstanding persists.
The Muslim journalist Ismat Sarah Mangla tweeted:
Sarsours address was mainly concerned with urging the Muslim community to stand united in the face of injustice against themselves and other marginalized groups, and encouraging Muslims to invest in local organizing efforts.
That conservative sites singled out Sarsours comments on jihad isnt surprising. Since emerging as a highly visible organizer and activist in the wake of Trumps election last year, Sarsour has been targeted by right-wing and anti-Muslim sites baselessly accusing her of supporting terrorism. She also routinely encounters hateful messagesand has received death threats.
Watch Sarsours full speech below:
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