A panel between conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and a representative for the Council on American-Islamic Relations blew up Friday.
The discussion came on Fox News and centered around controversial comments that Shariah law advocate Linda Sarsour recently made, when she called on Americans to wage "jihad" against President Donald Trump.
Sarsour said at an event late last month:
And I hope that we, when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts us from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers, not only abroad in the Middle East or on the other side of the world, but here, in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House."
Florida CAIR director Hassan Shibly defended those comments during his fiery discussion with Shapiro, which was moderated by Fox News host Dana Perino. Shibly claimed Sarsour's comments were taken out-of-context and said that "jihad" actually means "to struggle for good."
"She was very clear that it's our duty as Americans and as Muslims to but forward our best effort and to struggle to speak truth to power, to help the disenfranchised, to stand for the oppressed to matter the cost is of speaking out. And she's actually paying the price of speaking out and calling out the Trump administration's attacks on minorities, attacks against woman," Shibly said. "Linda is a revolutionary American-Muslim proud hijab-sporting activist and we stand with her, we're proud of the tremendous work she's doing."
Shapiro, however, vehemently disagreed.
"I don't think anybody is claiming that she openly called for violence against President Trump, but jihad means more than "internal struggle" or "struggle for good," Shapiro explained. "We all know there are terrorists all over the world who invoke the word "jihad" as justification for what they do — and Linda Sarsour knows that too. She knows how to make a headline. She's a radical anti-Semite who has backed terrorists in the past."
That's when Shibly forcibly interrupted Shapiro and directed him not to "smear" Sarsour because she wasn't present to defend herself.
"You just don't like a vocal Muslim-American woman proudly standing for justice. Don't smear a woman who's not here to defend herself," he said. "Shame on you."
Then Shapiro turned the tables on Shibly.
"Fine, I'll talk about CAIR instead. CAIR is an organization that was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2007," Shapiro explained.
"Right, shift the topic!" Shibly shot back. "Don't try to drown out the conversation."
Perino, who was filling in for regular show host Martha MacCallum, tried to reign the conversation back into a peaceful debate. She asked Shibly why Sarsour would use the word "jihad" given the strings attached to it.
Shibly's response left Perino and Shapiro nearly speechless.
"Well, that’s why it’s so important that she used that word because we must reclaim that word from the extremists that have misdefined it and misrepresented it," Shibly said.
"What?!" Perino said back, surprised while Shapiro chuckled.
"The only way we can reclaim our words, and reclaim our language is by leaders proudly and unapologetically using it in the right context so we can show the world what jihad really means," Shibly explained.
Perino said it's "too late" for Muslims to "reclaim" the word, but Shibly disagreed. That's when Shapiro issued Shibly a challenge: as a CAIR representative, condemn the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with terrorism ties.
But Shibly refused to do so and accused Shapiro of trying to "distort" their conversation. As the discussion came to a close, Perino gave that last word to Shapiro.
"If you want to reclaim the word ‘jihad,’ you should start by condemning organizations that promote jihad all over the world instead of associating with them," he said, before Shibly interrupted him again.
"Jihad doesn't mean terrorism," Shibly said.
"Then condemn organizations that participate in it," Shapiro shot back. "This is not hard."
Watch the contentious back-and-forth below: