Fox’s Judge Jeanine faces pushback over controversial segment criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar

March 11, 2019

Can an American citizen believe in Sharia law and the Constitution at the same time? Judge Jeanine Pirro is under fire after asking that question of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over the weekend in what some described as a bigoted attack. 

In a segment on Justice with Judge Jeanine on Saturday, the opinionated Fox host asked whether Omar’s hijab is “indicative” of belief in Sharia Islamic law, which Pirro said is “antithetical to America’s founding document.” Pirro went on to suggest that the Democratic Party’s growing anti-Semitism was not coming from within the party; quite the opposite, she said.

“This is not who your party is,” Pirro said in a message to Democrats. “Your party is not anti-Israel, she is. Think about this. She is not getting this anti-Israel sentiment doctrine from the Democrat Party.”

Pirro blasted for questioning Omar

Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress and the first ever lawmaker to wear a hijab on the House floor, has been in the center of controversy over recent comments she made about Israel, which critics say are anti-Semitic, and she is a supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions movement (BDS). Her comments have divided the Democratic Party between moderates who support Israel and radicals who stridently oppose the Jewish state.

“So if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from? Think about it. Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Quran, 33:59, tells women to cover so they won’t molested,” Pirro said in her Saturday opening monologue. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?”

Pirro also dinged the Democratic Party leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for “appeasing” Omar and her fellow radicals by leaving Omar’s name out of a generic anti-hate resolution that was at least two degrees removed from a direct rebuke of the congresswoman. The “watered down” resolution began as an indictment of anti-Semitism but gradually evolved into a diluted condemnation of all forms of hate.

Pirro also criticized Pelosi for defending Omar by saying that she has “a different experience in the use of words.”

The Fox host’s full monologue, which previously appeared in this article, has been removed from Fox News’ YouTube account.

Facing backlash, Pirro not backing down

In a statement Sunday, Fox rebuked Pirro for the comments, saying: “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar… They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

Pirro has also faced pushback from liberal journalists and Islamic activists. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called out Pirro for Islamophobia, “and Women’s March activist and alleged anti-Semite Linda Sarsour called Pirro’s comments “disgusting.” Pirro refused to back down in a response, saying that she “did not call Rep. Omar un-American” and that her intention was to “start a debate.”

“I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Rep. Omar un-American,” Pirro said. “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution… I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”

Numerous U.S. states have passed bills blocking Sharia law. Critics on the left say that fear over Sharia is overblown and rooted in bigotry and ignorance, with apologists often arguing that the practice is wrongly likened to a theocratic system of government dominating over Muslims and non-believers alike when it is really a lifestyle based in the Quran for Muslims to follow.

However, critics of Sharia say that it is a legal system that is incompatible with Western values and women’s rights. Some Muslim-majority nations still stone women who commit adultery, and women are closely monitored and controlled in nations like Saudi Arabia, where male guardianship of women is strictly enforced by law. Saudi Arabia even caters to jealous husbands with a smartphone app that allows them to monitor their wives’ movements and restrict their travel.

Too far?

The controversy over Omar has also renewed dialogue on the alleged prominence of anti-Semitism in the wider Islamic community, with some critics arguing that hatred of Jews isn’t all that uncommon in the Arab world. In addition to the anti-Semitism controversy, Omar has attracted criticism for what some see as a cavalier attitude on Islamic terrorism and ungratefulness to America’s generosity towards refugees.

“Why the disdain for the government of the country that saved you and your family?” Pirro asked. “Why the scorn?”

But did Judge Jeanine go too far?


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.