Fox News "strongly condemned" one of its most popular hosts on Sunday for a segment the cable news channel insisted does not reflect its views.
Judge Jeanine Pirro asked on her show Saturday if Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s hijab means she follows Sharia law, “which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution.
“Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Koran 33:59 tells women to cover so they won’t get molested,” Pirro said, during the opening monologue on her show “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”
Pirro was discussing Omar’s recent controversy surrounding comments she made about Israel. The Fox host argued that Omar’s “anti-Israel sentiment” did not come from the Democratic Party.
“Your party is not anti-Israel, she is,” Pirro said. “So if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from?”
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The American Jewish Committee slammed the segment, tweeting, "Suggesting that a member of Congress's faith or identity is inconsistent with his or her commitment to uphold the Constitution is ugly bigotry. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others have long served America with distinction. @JudgeJeanine should apologize."
Author James Surowiecki put Pirro's comments in a historical context, noting, "The irony here is that Pirro is a practicing Catholic. And the slur she's making against Omar — that if she follows the Koran, she can't follow the Constitution — is remarkably similar to the arguments that were once made against Catholic politicians."
Fox News Channel issued an official statement on Sunday: “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
Pirro issued her own response Sunday, saying, "I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Representative Omar un-American. 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 Representative Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
Last week, an anti-Muslim poster outside the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber falsely connecting Omar to the September 11 terrorist attacks drew strong rebukes from local and national lawmakers, while causing the resignation of a Capitol staffer and the reported injury of another.