Linda Sarsour, a lead organizer of the Women’s March on Washington and one of the most high-profile Muslim activists in the country, gave an impassioned speech last weekend that at first gained little attention.
Speaking to a predominately Muslim crowd at the annual Islamic Society of North America convention in suburban Chicago, Sarsour urged her fellow Muslims to speak out against oppression.
In her speech, Sarsour told a story from Islamic scripture about a man who once asked Muhammad, the founder of Islam, “What is the best form of jihad, or struggle?
“And our beloved prophet … said to him, ‘A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad,’” Sarsour said.
“I hope that … when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or on 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.”
Linda Sarsour has been a prominent face among left-wing activists, in particular since the election of US President Donald Trump. She was one of the organizers of the January “Women’s March on Washington” held the day after Trump’s inauguration.
In her speech to ISNA, Sarsour said that since Islamophobes do not stop to ask Muslims in the street about their political or religious persuasions before attacking, since Islamophobes do not distinguish between different types of Muslims, so the American Muslim community must band together united. She also said that since the Muslim community is heavily outnumbered in the US, they must ally themselves with other minorities if they hope to have any agency on a national scale.
“Why are we so afraid of this administration and the potential chaos that they will ensue upon our community?” she asked. “And we already saw their potential when they come out every few weeks – Muslim ban 1, Muslim ban 2, Muslim ban 3… they are relentless, they are persistent, and consistent, and want to see how much we as a community can endure, and want to see who our friends are, and how hard we’re going to fight back against this administration.”
She called on the Muslim community to organize around building itself up from every angle, but scolded them against wandering outside of their comfort zones. “We gotta stay in our lanes. If you are not a communications specialist, then you are not to be advising our community on how to communicate with the rest of the public.”
“We have to stay outraged,” she insisted to applause. “Do not criticize me when I say that we as a Muslim community in these United States of America have to be perpetually outraged every single… when I wake up in the morning, and I remember who’s sitting in the White House, I am outraged. This is not normal, Sisters and Brothers. Those people sitting in the most powerful seats in this country is not normal. So, do not ever be those citizens that normalize this administration, because when they day comes that something horrific happens to us or to another community, you will be responsible for normalizing this administration.”