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Saudi media targets leading Muslim-American women for a trolling

Ilhan Omar was the first Somali-American woman elected to the US Congress [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 December, 2018

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Newly appointed Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were among the women bizarrely accused by Riyadh's Al-Arabiya of having political links with Islamist movements including the Muslim Brotherhood.
A number of leading Muslim American women, including newly appointed congresswomen and influential activists, have become the latest target of Saudi state media, which launched an Islamophobic attack on what it dubbed the "Muslim Sisters".

Congresswomen-elect Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were among the women accused by Riyadh's Al-Arabiya of having political links with Islamist movements. The Saudi-owned platform claimed the pair, who made history as being the first Somali and Arab Muslim women to enter the US Congress, used supposed "political links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas" to climb to prominence.

"Those sponsoring and supporting the two Muslim women to reach the US Congress adopted a tactic to infiltrate through their immigrant and Black minority communities in general, and women's groups in particular," Al-Arabiya reported. 

"One example of that is the Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour with roots in Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations known as CAIR."

Sarsour is an influential activist who received a "Champion of Change" award from President Obama in 2012, which Al-Arabiya bizarrely linked to the founder of the Palestinian Hamas movement.

"The paradox here is that the description of the 'Obama' award is similar to the title of 'Youth and Change', the first book taught by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - the spiritual leader of Hamas, the military arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine," Al-Arabiya reported.

Dalia Mogahed, former executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, who served on Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships in 2009, was also defamed for her "staunch" criticism of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - a loyal ally of the Saudi ruling family.

The attack on influential Muslim-American women comes as little surprise. Riyadh has on several occasions used its official media arms, as well as social media, to attack, discredit and ostracise individuals it deems a threat.

Last week, renowned Hollywood A-lister Sean Penn landed in Istanbul to shoot a documentary on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, prompting a backlash from the kingdom's media who suggested he was also a Muslim Brotherhood sympathiser.

In an article also published by Al-Arabiya, Penn was bizarrely described as an activist who "favours leftist governments" linked to "causes affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood" because of his stance in support of Argentina, "not England" over the Falkland Islands.

"He was also linked to Iran as he played a role in the release of two Americans who were imprisoned in Iran, in 2011," Al-Arabiya wrote. "Penn is very pro-refugee, which is aligned to the 'demographic Jihad' promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood," it said referencing website building platform wordpress.com as a source.

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