What is Political Islam? Virginia Muslim parent slams Abrar Omeish's 'Jihad' talk

What is Political Islam? Virginia Muslim parent slams Abrar Omeish's 'Jihad' talk
Abrar Omeish, the only Muslim school board member at Fairfax County, addressed the 2021 graduating class of Justice High School (Twitter/@FairfaxGOP)

Several parents have voiced concerns about a Virginia school board member who told graduating high school students to remember "jihad" as they stepped into a "world of white supremacy".

Asra Nomani, a Muslim mother, described the controversial speech by Fairfax County School board member Abrar Omeish as a "wake-up call". During an appearance on Fox & Friends on June 15, Nomani said that "political Islam" had "joined with the radical left to hijack our schools". Nomani was one of the many parents who spoke out against comments made by Omeish, the only Muslim school board member at Fairfax County, who addressed the 2021 graduating class of Justice High School on June 7.


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"The world sees the accolade, the diploma, the fruit of all your years yet be reminded of the detail of your struggle," Omeish told the students in English. However, when she reiterated the speech in Arabic, she reportedly told students to remember their "Jihad" — a holy war waged on behalf of Islam — as they were entering a world of "racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, (and) white supremacy".


Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal columnist, said the speech was "just really depressing". She said it was "indicative of radicalization" at "school boards and school districts and schools across the country, from principals to teachers to political operatives like (Omeish)." "The script was written years ago," Nomani told Fox & Friends. "Omeish, I know her very well, I'm also a Muslim... her father and the elders of the community that brought her to office are part of this network of political Islam in America that has joined together with the far left in order to create a trojan horse... to basically hijack our schools with their radical ideology."

"It's something parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, are very alarmed about... this is a wake-up call to everyone across the country that they've got to be vigilant in our school districts," Nomani added. Another parent branded Omeish's words as "incendiary". "I think it's important for your viewers to know that Abrar Omeish’s comments here are incendiary comments, are not the first example of divisive and anti-Semitic rhetoric," Gary Aiken told Fox & Friends.

Abrar Omeish speaks during a memorial service for Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Mayflower Hotel on November 2, 2018, in Washington, DC (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

What is Political Islam?

According to the Hoover Institute, Political Islam is a "political ideology, a legal order, and in many ways also a military doctrine associated with the campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad". Political Islam blurs the distinction between "religion and politics, mosque and state," in favor of a caliphate. 

According to Islamic scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the conflict between the United States and political Islam dates back to at least 1979, when Islamic revolutionaries seized the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The threats posed by political Islam were apparent in the decades that followed, with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. However, it was the 9/11 attacks that attracted sustained public attention towards political Islam as an ideology.

Author Jocelyne Cesari noted in her book 'What Is Political Islam?' that there were new attempts to distinguish between Islamism as religion-based political movements and political Islam as a national modern understanding of Islam shared by secular and Islamist actors.

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