Viewers of “The Kelly File” Tuesday night witnessed an unusual sight for the Fox News Channel: a Muslim woman clad in a bright red, white and blue star-spangled hijab. The woman in question is Saba Ahmed, founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition, an organization that advocates in Washington on behalf of Muslims for “pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-traditional family values, pro-defense, pro-trade, pro-business policies."
Ahmed was invited on Megyn Kelly’s nightly show to go toe-to-toe with Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for Donald Trump, about Trump's comments that he would consider shuttering mosques in the U.S. to combat radical extremism.
“Megyn, we go to the mosque to pray,” said Ahmed. “You wouldn’t shut down churches because there were one or two Christians who were acting badly. The mosque has nothing to do with the terrorist. Yes, there are people who misuse the religion for their perverted ideology but that has nothing to do with my faith.”
Ahmed added that Trump should visit a local mosque. “Mr. Trump has so many business dealings all over the Middle East. He’s worked with Muslims; he knows we’re good, hardworking people. You cannot alienate the Muslim-American voters.”
Pierson was not convinced. "This is not about alienation," she said. "You have to investigate and you have to implement due process. If it's one person, fine, but if it's the entire mosque it needs to be shut down.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Ahmed, who works as a patent attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, has appeared on Fox News. She has discussed issues affecting Muslims and Muslim-Americans on both Kelly’s show and Fox Business.
On her website, Ahmed, 31, says she is “dedicated to educating and enlightening the American public, especially those in conservative Republican legal, political and business circles, about Islam.” But she wasn’t always a Republican: Ahmed was a Democrat who ran for U.S. Congress in her home state of Oregon in 2011.
— Saba Ahmed (@SabaRMC) November 16, 2015
But she quickly became disenchanted with Democrats. In a 2014 column for The Guardian, Ahmed described her political transformation: “I became Republican because I felt that my Islamic values -- pro-life, pro-traditional family, pro-business, pro-trade -- aligned best with the Republican party platform. I identified as a Democrat for several years when I was younger, but found it hard to defend liberal values as they were so often in conflict with my deeply-held beliefs.”
Ahmed's affiliation with the Republican party doesn’t stop Ahmed from criticizing GOP presidential front-runners when they spread what she says is misinformation about her Muslim faith.
“Carson’s ill-informed views on Muslim-Americans have become commonplace in the GOP, which is doing its level best to alienate yet another minority group that it will need to remain a viable majority party in the coming decades,” Ahmed wrote on The Daily Caller, a conservative news site.
Ahmed added that many Islamic values are consistent with those touted by the Republican party, which should try to court Muslims instead of pushing them away.
“The GOP has lost the African-American vote. They are at risk of losing Hispanic-Americans,” she writes. “Do they want to permanently alienate Muslims, too?”