Linda Sarsour’s latest effort to distance the Women’s March leadership from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan may have backfired.
A Women’s March national co-chair, Ms. Sarsour met with heavy skepticism after insisting that she has never met Mr. Farrakhan — or attended a Farrakhan speech — even though they both spoke at a rally he hosted in 2015.
“I for one, have NEVER EVER met the Minister but facts don’t matter and people want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Ms. Sarsour said in a Saturday post on Facebook. “Discarding People is not how we transform hearts and eradicate antisemitism.”
As sharp-eyed social-media critics quickly pointed out, Ms. Sarsour spoke at Justice or Else, an October 2015 event at the National Mall organized by Mr. Farrakhan marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
“So how can we believe the Women’s March when they say they are truly sorry for how they have hurt Jewish people when keep lying about their affiliation with Farrakhan?” said the Twitter account (((kweansmom))).
Ms. Sarsour also said that only one of the four Women’s March co-chairs has attended a speech by Mr. Farrakhan, referring to Tamika Mallory, who came under fire for her appearance in February at his annual Saviours’ Day event in Chicago.
“Only one leader of the Women’s March was at one of Minister Farrakhan’s speeches and she has written about it and the Women’s March has put out many many statements rejecting ALL forms of racism including antisemitism,” Ms. Sarsour said in the post on co-chair Bob Bland’s page.
According to a C-SPAN transcript, however, co-chair Carmen Perez spoke at the 2015 Justice or Else rally in her role as executive director of the Gathering for Justice, as did Ms. Mallory, whose online biography lists her as an organizer of the event. Mr. Farrakhan also delivered a speech.
“[T]here is lots of evidence that Linda Sarsour blatantly lied in her above statement about 1 member 1 time attending a Farrakhan speech,” said Ariana Bell, who identified herself as a “Jewish woman of color.” “All you have to do is Google to see lots of pictures of Mallory and Perez posing with him and comments that he is the best on their Instagram.”
She cited an Instagram photo from November 2016 showing Ms. Perez holding hands with Mr. Farrakhan, underneath which Ms. Sarsour commented, “the brother does not age. God bless him.”
Ms. Mallory, who said in May that she has been going to Nation of Islam events since she was a child, has appeared on multiple occasions as an adult with Mr. Farrakhan, including the 2016 Saviours’ Day, which Ms. Perez also attended.
Ms. Sarsour’s attempt to put distance between the Women’s March leaders and Mr. Farrakhan comes with the progressive powerhouse facing a growing backlash over anti-Semitism allegations, which they deny.
On Twitter, (((kweansmom))) said Ms. Sarsour and the Women’s March “continue to lie about their Farrakhan connections” and posted photos and videos of Ms. Sarsour, Ms. Perez and Ms. Mallory speaking at the Justice or Else gathering.
“Whether you actually made eye contact or shook hands at his rally is irrelevant,” said the Monday post. “As Carmen Perez explained, you were there at Farrakhan’s special invitation. You supported him and legitimized him with your presence. You. Were. There.”
The group American Zionism tweeted, “Her statement is a lie.”
Ms. Sarsour countered that “being in a photo doesn’t mean you attended a speech he gave,” and heatedly denied the accusations of revisionist history.
“Thousands went to the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March - Carmen was one of them,” Ms. Sarsour said on Facebook. “Don’t you EVER call me a liar. Shame on you.”
Ms. Sarsour added: “I am in a movement that is about uplifting all women and having complex and difficult conversations and making sure that we can all live and thrive. If that’s not what you want - that’s fine.”
The Women’s March has issued statements condemning anti-Semitism without denouncing personally Mr. Farrakhan, described by the Anti-Defamation League as “America’s leading Anti-Semite.”
In the same thread, Ms. Bland declared, “The Women’s March UNEQUIVOCALLY rejects anti-semitism and bigotry regardless of who it comes from, including from Minister Farrakhan, and there should be no confusion about that.”
The group’s third annual march on Washington, D.C., called #WomensWave, is scheduled for Jan. 19.