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UConn to host speaker who once called for ‘jihad’ against U.S. ‘fascists’


Muslim activist Linda Sarsour has called for divestments and sanctions against Israel

Prominent social activist Linda Sarsour, who has previously come under fire for controversial comments regarding opposition to the Trump administration, is set to speak at the University of Connecticut as an invited guest of the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

The event, scheduled for March 7, is also hosted in part by the school’s Women’s, Gender and Sexualities Studies department and its Human Rights Institute.

The event listing describes Sarsour as a “racial justice and civil rights activist” who “has received numerous awards and honors including “Champion of Change” by the White House, YWCA USA’s Women of Distinction Award for Advocacy and Civic Engagement, and the Hala Maksoud Leadership Award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.”

The description also lists Sarsour as “one of the four co-organizers of the January 21, 2017, Women’s March on Washington.”

Sarsour, who has generated controversy in recent months over several controversial comments she made regarding women, Islam and Sharia Law, and Israel, last year called for a “jihad” against “the fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.”

Quoting Muhammed, whom Muslims believe to be a prophet of God, Sarsour said that “a word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader” is “the best form of jihad.”

“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 said at the time.

Reached for comment via email, University of Connecticut spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz told The College Fix: “A speaker’s presence on campus doesn’t mean that UConn as an institution has endorsed his or her message. However, we believe public universities should be places where differing views can be expressed respectfully and where our students and other guests can consider and challenge a variety of opinions.”

“Free speech, like academic freedom, is one of UConn’s bedrock principles,” Reitz said.

The Fix followed up with Reitz about the specific topic that Sarsour will address at the event and why the Women’s Center chose to invite her. “She was invited as part of Women’s History Month 2018 activities at the center,” Reitz said.

Reitz told The Fix that the title of Sarsour’s presentation is “Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”

Sarsour’s other controversial comments include her argument that one cannot be both a feminist and a Zionist, her tweet that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” her support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel (which is considered antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League), and her claims that the “Jewish media” is behind her controversial reputation.

Several years ago she tweeted that activists Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (the latter of who is a victim of female genital mutilation) “don’t deserve to be women” and that she wishes she could “take their vaginas away.” She also tweeted that women in Saudi Arabia receive “10 weeks of PAID maternity leave” and that this policy “puts [the United States] to shame.”

At the speech in which she called for “jihad” against the Trump administration, she also referred to Siraj Wajjah, an unindicted-co conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as her “favorite person” in the room. Last year she also appeared at a Jewish Voice for Peace conference with convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, a criminal with whom Sarsour claimed she was “honored” to share the stage.

The Fix also reached out to a campus Israel advocacy group, Huskies for Israel, along with Jewish groups UConn Hillel and Chabad at UConn, but all declined to comment.

UPDATED: This article originally stated that campus spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz had not responded to an additional inquiry from The College Fix. Reitz had in fact responded. The article has been updated with that response.

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About the Author
Matthew Stein -- Swarthmore College