Fox News condemns its own host over comments about congresswoman’s hijab

Fox News has condemned its host Jeanine Pirro after she questioned whether a Muslim congresswoman’s wearing of a headscarf stood in conflict to the US Constitution.

In a rare rebuke of one of its star presenters, the network said: "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 suggested on her Saturday show that Ms Omar’s religious beliefs may run counter to the US Constitution, saying: "Think about it: Omar wears a hijab, which, according to the Qur’an 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?"

Ms Omar, who is a Somali-American and of the first Muslim women elected to Congress in November, has been at the centre of a furious row over anti-Semitism after controversial comments she made about Israel. 

The Democratic Party was forced to pass a resolution in the House of Representatives last week condemning the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes after Ms Omar compared support for Israel to “allegiance to a foreign country”. 

Ilhan Omar was one of the first Muslim women elected to CongressCredit:
Alex Edelman/Bloomberg

Ms Omar, who has already been once rebuked by Democrat leadership over her comments on Israel in the two months she has been in office, triggered this new row with a tweet. 

She wrote: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee”  

Pirro, also known as Judge Jeanine, opened her weekend programme criticising Ms Omar for “anti-Israel sentiment” and questioned whether it was rooted in the representative for Minnesota’s Islamic beliefs.

“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?” Pirro said on her "Justice with Judge Jeanine" show.

The comments drew criticism from her own colleagues. Hufsa Kamal, a producer on Fox’s "Special Report with Bret Baier," tweeted: "@JudgeJeanine can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough? You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself."

Responding to the furore, Pirro said her intention "was to ask a question and start a debate." 

"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."