Fox News Channel has condemned one of its hosts, Jeanine Pirro, amid mounting criticism over her recent on-air remarks about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
Pirro, also known as Judge Jeanine, opened her show Saturday criticizing Omar for what she called “anti-Israel sentiment” and questioned whether it was rooted in Omar’s Islamic beliefs.
Omar, a Somali immigrant, has been critical of Israel and has been accused — even within her own party — of invoking anti-Semitic tropes.
“She’s not getting this anti-Israel sentiment doctrine from the Democrat Party,” Pirro said about the freshman congresswoman. “So if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from?"
“Think about it,” she added. “Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Koran 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?”
Pirro’s comments drew criticism from Fox News Channel, as well as at least one of her colleagues.
“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” network executives said in a statement to The Washington Post. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
And Hufsa Kamal, an associate producer for Fox News’s “Special Report With Bret Baier,” called out Pirro on Twitter for “spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America.”
Pirro defended her remarks, saying she did not call Omar “un-American.”
“I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Rep. Omar un-American,” Pirro said in her own statement. “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
On Monday, Omar thanked Fox News, tweeting that, "No one’s commitment to our constitution should be questioned because of their faith or country of birth.”
The congresswoman has faced her own share of criticism, being accused of using anti-Semitic tropes.
An outspoken critic of Israel, Omar has courted controversy with provocative remarks that some say invoke anti-Semitic stereotypes. The pattern has alarmed many Jews, and as Omar faced yet another firestorm last week, community leaders on both sides voiced pain and confusion, fearing that the comments could damage an alliance they have spent years trying to nurture.
Somali community activist Omar Jamal of St. Paul said he is in touch with local Jewish leaders about how the two sides can reaffirm their solidarity at a moment of crisis. He said that he supported Omar’s congressional campaign but that her comments are “wrong, period.”
“She can solve this problem if she wants to,” Jamal said. “This is up to Ilhan Omar. She has really spoken in a very dangerous way, and it’s going to be up to her to reach out to people and fix this.”
The controversy has roiled the Twin Cities, where Omar, a Democrat, represents Minneapolis and its large Somali American community, as well as several neighborhoods that have been home to Jews for generations. The liberal and racially diverse 5th Congressional District was previously represented by state Attorney General Keith Ellison, who in 2006 made history as the first Muslim elected to Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to defend the congresswoman.
“I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” Pelosi said Friday at the Economic Club, according to the Hill. “I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning.”
Pirro also took issue with that defense.