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Fox News host suggests Ilhan Omar's hijab means she is against US Constitution: Reports

CAIR calls for Fox News legal pundit Jeanine Pirro to be fired over her 'un-American expression of religious bigotry'
Top Democratic presidential candidates have denounced Islamophobic attacks against Omar (AFP)

A Fox News host close to US President Donald Trump suggested that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s decision to wear hijab may mean she is opposed to the Constitution, The Independent and other media reported on Sunday.

Jeanine Pirro, a legal pundit for the US news channel, also accused the Somali-American congresswoman of being anti-Israel and a believer in sharia law, The Independent reported.

Rolling Stone said on its website that Fox’s Pirro was trying to use Islamophobia to make Americans fear Omar, as the former judge tried to connect Omar’s hijab to sharia law, which she said was “antithetical to the US Constitution”.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) later on Sunday called for Pirro to be fired over her attack. "Such an open and un-American expression of religious bigotry should be rejected by any media outlet seeking even a modicum of credibility," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Jeanine Pirro should be fired, and Fox News should apologize to its viewing audience."

Pirro’s claims come amid continuing fallout over comments made by Omar last week that were critical of Israel and construed by attackers on the right as anti-Semitic.

Esquire said on its website that it was bigoted and incorrect to imply that Omar’s criticism of Israel must inevitably spring from her Muslim faith. Support for Israel is declining among America's left-wing millennial women of all backgrounds, as well as among Democrats generally.

Top Democratic presidential candidates came to Omar’s defence amid the accusations of anti-Semitism and calls to reprimand the Muslim-American lawmaker for her criticism of Israel, MEE reported last week.

Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren issued statements denouncing Islamophobic attacks against Omar and highlighting the distinction between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel.

On her Fox News show on Saturday evening, Pirro said: “Think about this, she’s not getting this anti-Israel sentiment doctrine from the Democrat Party, so if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from?

“Think about it. Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Quran 33:59 tells women to cover so they won’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law? Which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”

Democratic presidential candidates back Ilhan Omar in 'anti-Semitism' row
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Despite Pirro’s claims, there is no evidence Omar has ever proposed sharia law or expressed opposition to the US Constitution, The Independent noted.

Brian Klaas, an American political scientist at University College London, told the newspaper that Pirro’s comments were “blatant and absurd Islamophobia from a close ally of President Trump”.

"Will any Republicans condemn it?” he said, after a number of GOP lawmakers had urged the Democratic leadership to punish Omar over her criticism of Israel.

Omar ignited the wave of outrage last week when she said at a town hall meeting in Washington that she wanted to discuss the political influence that pushes for "allegiance to a foreign country", referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a major pro-Israel lobby group.

The congresswoman's critics said the remarks insinuated that Jewish-Americans are more loyal to Israel than to the US, an anti-Semitic trope, but Omar said that she only meant to criticise the influence of AIPAC on US foreign policy.

The Minnesota Democrat, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, is the first representative to wear hijab on the House floor, the Hill said on its website.

Pirro supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election and has stridently supported his claims that federal investigations into his administration are a "witch hunt".