Linda Sarsour, a former campaign surrogate for Bernie Sanders, promotes a brand of Islamist social justice that has little in common with modern progressive ideals.
On February 8, the Colorado Muslim Society, Denver's largest and most prominent Islamic center, hosted an event titled "Build Legal Power for American Muslims." The conference was organized by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) and featured guest speaker Linda Sarsour, whom the event flyer described as a "social justice activist."
But in reality, Sarsour's record suggests that she is exactly the last person who should be invited to speak on the subject of "social justice."
Back in the late 1940s, a young Egyptian named Sayyid Qutb studied at what is now the University of Northern Colorado, located about an hour north of Denver. During his brief time in Colorado, Qutb observed the culture and way of life in his host country and came to deeply resent the excesses and liberal traditions practiced in the West. Qutb would later join the Muslim Brotherhood and promote his theory of violent, jihadist revolution – ideas which would become the foremost inspiration for Osama bin Laden and other terrorist ideologues around the world.
Before leaving Colorado, Qutb's anti-Western tirades were published in a text called "Social Justice in Islam," a book which has little in common with contemporary progressive theories on gender, ethnic, and social equality, and instead advocates for the establishment of a classless, puritanical Islamic state governed by Sharia law.
Published during his U.S. sabbatical, Qutb's al-Adalat al-ljtima'iyyah fi 1-Islam (Social Justice in Islam) advocates for social justice as an Islamic imperative and depicts the West as an invading, neo-imperialist force.
Today in Denver, Islamists continue to practice the tried and true modus operandi of their ideological forebears, which is to spread their thinly-veiled, anti-Western political objectives under the guise of social justice.
During her speech in Denver, and in similar fashion to the Muslim Brotherhood icon, Sarsour emphasized that "living in America is a test from Allah" and insisted that Muslims "have to build legal and political power." Qutb's modern-day "feminist" acolyte maintains that the Trump administration has given rise to a whole new wave of white supremacists and "Islamophobes."
A founding organizer and board member of the national Women's March, Sarsour resigned from the group in 2019 amid allegations of anti-Semitism stemming from her defense of hate preachers such as Louis Farrakhan. The Denver chapter of the Women's March joined numerous local branches across the U.S. in dissociating from the national headquarters for failing to disavow such affiliations.
Although Sarsour's rabid anti-Semitism and reverence for anti-Jewish terrorists may have been too much for the Women's March, a secular Jew from Vermont welcomed the "Brooklyn homegirl in a hijab" to his ill-fated presidential campaign. Sarsour served as a national surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders, one of many instances -- a strategy which ultimately failed him.
In 2017, Sarsour notoriously encouraged listeners at the 54th annual Islamic Society of North America convention in Chicago to engage in "a form of Jihad" through activism against "those who oppress our communities" and reminded the audience that their greatest priority is not to assimilate into American society, but rather to please Allah.
"These are terms used by Muslim Brotherhood teachings and in the views of Sayyid Qutb," noted Al-Arabiya, a leading Saudi Arabian news outlet.
Plotting with the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Qutb was arrested and eventually executed in 1966. His ideology survives today among jihadists and Islamic modernists alike.
Sarsour has employed misogynistic language against her political adversaries, telling counter-Islamists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brigitte Gabriel in a tweet that they "don't deserve to be women," and that she wishes she could "take their vaginas away." What's more, Sarsour named as a personal mentor Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a radical Islamist hate preacher who was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and who refers to homosexuality as "a disease of this society" which is punishable by death.
Speaking at the Colorado Muslim Society, Sarsour used her platform to glowingly defend Syed Fahad Hashmi, whom she described as a "brilliant" 19-year-old student at Brooklyn University whose professors loved him. "You would dream to have a son like Fahad Hashmi," Sarsour said.
Hashmi is not exactly a model citizen. In 2006, he was charged with providing material support to Al Qaeda in its fight against American service members in Afghanistan. Hashmi pleaded guilty, and when the judge asked if this plea was "because he was in fact guilty," Hashmi responded, "Alhamdulillah, yes."
With a long and ugly history of defending and advocating for convicted terrorists and Muslim extremists, MLFA is proud to host a like-minded Islamist such as Sarsour. Its members repeatedly assert that the U.S. justice system is part of a shady "Islamophobic" cabal which wrongly and unjustly targets Muslims in America.
Introducing Sarsour in Denver was MLFA Executive Director Khalil Meek, who previously served as president of the Dallas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Meeks began his speech by insisting that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was "wrongfully accused" of supporting terrorism. This "wrongfully accused" group was an Islamic charity whose top leaders were convicted in 2008 of 108 criminal counts, including sending $12 million of material support to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas -- charges that Meek simply dismissed as being "guilt by association."
Unsurprisingly, CAIR was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the same terror finance trial. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates formally designated CAIR as a terrorist organization in 2014 because of its ties to violent Muslim Brotherhood groups.
But the MLFA's defense of terrorists doesn't stop at the Holy Land Foundation.
Terrorist groups from the Taliban to the Islamic State have sought to free Aafia Siddiqui, pictured in this 2004 FBI combo photo.
In 2003, MLFA funded the defense of former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to one count of "Conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Specially Designated Terrorist organization." In 2010, MLFA defended Aafia Siddiqui (a.k.a. "Lady Al Qaeda"), a Pakistani-American who received an 86-year prison sentence for the attempted murder of FBI agents and American soldiers in Afghanistan. MLFA coordinated Siddiqui's legal defense with the Pakistani government, which reportedly contributed $2 million to her attorney fees.
By playing host to Islamist speakers and organizations, the Colorado Muslim Society is perpetuating a decades-old Qutbist tradition which was ideologically conceived out of hatred for the local community. Sarsour and her Islamist colleagues came to Denver to promote a brand of social justice which couldn't care less for the actual victims of systemic inequality. Rather, their activism is reserved exclusively for violent and non-violent Islamists who seek to replace America's secular and pluralistic society with a draconian Islamic state.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Colorado Muslims reject Qutb's perverted "social justice" and refuse to be represented by the likes of the MLFA or Sarsour.
Ahnaf Kalam is a Denver-based journalist and a Counter-Islamist Grid Fellow at the Middle East Forum