Fox News denounced remarks made by host Jeanine Pirro over the weekend that suggested Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) opposes the United States Constitution because she wears a hijab.
“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” Fox News said in a statement Sunday night. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
On Saturday night, during the opening segment of her Fox News television show “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Pirro focused on the freshman congresswoman’s recent comments about Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists on American politics.
She accused Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, of pushing “hate-filled, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel tropes” about “dual loyalty” to Israel and the power of Jewish money.
“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,” Pirro said. “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?”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, called on Fox News to fire Pirro.
“Such an open and un-American expression of religious bigotry should be rejected by any media outlet seeking even a modicum of credibility,” CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement Sunday.
The Fox News host appeared to defend her on-air remarks in her own statement issued Sunday night.
“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,” Pirro said. “I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
The congresswoman’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Monday morning.
Omar, a Somali-American representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, drew harsh rebuke from leaders in both the Republican and Democratic parties for her controversial comments in recent weeks.
Last month, journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was threatening to punish Omar and another congresswoman for their criticism of Israel. Omar responded to his tweet, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” appearing to quote a line from a 1997 Puff Daddy song that uses a slang term for $100 bills.
In response to a question about who she thinks is paying U.S. lawmakers to support pro-Israel legislation, Omar tweeted “AIPAC!” — referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent advocacy organization that spent $3.5 million on lobbying in 2018.
Omar’s tweets sparked bipartisan backlash and debate on Capitol Hill, with critics accusing her of evoking negative stereotypes linking Jews to money and influence.
Still, a handful of Democratic presidential candidates — including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — defended her.
Omar apologized for her remarks in a statement posted to Twitter in February but said she reaffirms “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil-fuel industry.”
Listening and learning, but standing strong ???? pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
“It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it,” she said.