American Conservatives Are Freaking Out At Women's March Organiser Saying 'Jihad'

The term, which directly translates as 'struggle', has been used by extremists to promote violence before

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Linda Sarsour is the Muslim activist who helped organise the Women's March the day after Donald Trump's inauguration.

Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, and Linda Sarsour.
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The march was one of the most successful non-violent protests in recent history, with satellite marches happening across the US and world.

The march specifically took umbrage with the new President's position in regards to women, though generally was a union of women and promotion of women's issues worldwide.

As a Muslim activist, Sarsour promotes non-violence within her faith and outside of it, and spoke about this at the annual Islamic Society of North America Convention.

In her speech, Linda explained a story from the Islamic scripture in which a man asks what the best form of Jihad is.

Jihad is oft translated as 'Holy War' (which is the defence of Islam, potentially by force) though the word (which literally translates as 'struggle') can also be used to describe 'a believer's internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith' as well as the more general struggle to 'build a good Muslim society'.

You can read more about the different interpretations and meanings of Jihad here, though what is most important is that, as ever, context is everything.

Linda went on in her speech, saying, '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,'

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She continued,

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.

Within the context of this speech (as well as looking at Sarsour's own history of promoting non-violent dissent), it seems clear the use of the term is referring to a general or personal kind of struggle of Jihad, as well as the story itself explaining that speaking the truth is 'the best form of jihad'.

However, the right-wing media obviously did not see it that way. A Conservative Review headline read, 'Linda Sarsour calls for Muslims to wage 'jihad' against Trump'. The article defines jihad only as 'holy war' and explained the 'jihad' part of the speech as, 'a particularly vague, yet terrifying, segment of her speech'

#WomenForSyria #Solidarity #NYC #Syria 📸: @roguephotonyc

A post shared by Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) on

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Likewise, Breitbart gave their article a sensationalist title, saying,'Linda Sarsour Calls for 'Jihad' Against Trump Administration' though they clarify the details later in the article.

'The context of Sarsour's remarks indicate that she meant a jihad using words. However, the term has also been used to describe violent struggle, including terrorism, against non-Muslims or against governments described as enemies.'

Donald Trump Jr. even retweeted a post referencing her speech.

The Washington Post reports that over the years, Muslim advocacy groups have gone to great lengths, such as taking out ad campaigns, to promote the peaceful interpretation of Jihad.

Many people on Twitter have also responded with the hastage #MyJihad to explain their personal struggle and interpretation of the term, suggesting many moderate Muslims do not see the word in it's extremist, violent interpretation.

However, some have suggested that Linda knows her words are going to be heavily scrutinised, and should therefore expect the 'blow back'.

Sarsour contests this in a new article on the Washington Post, suggesting that her speech was to a crowd of Muslims, referencing scripture, and not a public forum to people of different faiths.

'I should be able to speak to my own community, my own faith community, use my scripture and … not be criminalized for being a Muslim in America.'

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