A Muslim-American leader on Sunday criticized one of the right wing’s top traffickers of Islamophobia for exaggerating the threat that Muslims pose to the United States and for regularly linking the religion to terrorism.
Anti-Muslim activist Brigitte Gabriel made news last week for berating a Muslim student at an event hosted by a conservative think-tank. “People like you need to be put in their place,” Gabriel later said to the student.
Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York — and recently recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House — challenged Gabriel on CNN’s Reliable Sources. “Ms. Gabriel speaks out of two sides of her mouth,” she said. “In one breath she’ll say the West must support moderate Muslims, and the moderate Muslims must speak out against terrorism and in the same breath she’ll say peaceful Muslims are irrelevant.”
Sarsour also took issue with Gabriel’s repeated attempts to link all Muslims with extremism:
SARSOUR: Ms. Gabriel needs to make up her mind when it comes to what is radical Islam. When asked by Australian news, she said a radical Muslim is someone who prays five times a day, someone who believes in the world of the Koran, which is the Muslim holy book, someone who believes the prophet may peace be on him is a perfect man. That’s basically every Muslim.
So, I have no idea what she means. Where is the room for moderate Islam?
“I want you to understand that if you want to combat terrorism you need to work within the Muslim community. You need to make sure that we are part of that and the, quote, ‘moderate’ Muslims that you’re talking about, which are almost every Muslim living here in this country, need to be part of this discussion,” Sarsour concluded. “But to alienate the Muslim community, create them as the other and to start making over exaggerations about these potential attacks that haven’t happened is not the way that you combat terrorism.” Watch the clip of the interview here via CNN:
Gabriel — who once said that any practicing Muslim cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States — was also criticized by a Fox News contributor on Friday during Sean Hannity’s anti-Islam “investigation” called “Radical Muslims on the March.”
“You, ma’am, I think are the most dangerous person in society,” Fox contributor Tamara Holder told Gabriel on Hannty’s show. “I think that you are the most dangerous person because to say things like moderate Muslims supposedly are not terrorists, or supposedly are not dangerous — the majority of Muslims in this country and in this world are safe, loving people who want peace.”
CAP’s 2011 report “Fear, Inc.” identified Gabriel as one of the “the main players who conjure up and spread misinformation about American Muslims and Islam in the United States.”