The Nation of Islam (NOI), the oldest Black nationalist organization in the U.S., has maintained a consistent record of anti-Semitism and racism since its founding in the 1930s.
Under the guidance of Louis Farrakhan, who has espoused anti-Semitism and racism for over 30 years as NOI leader, the organization has used its programs, institutions, and media to disseminate its message of hate.
While Farrakhan often speaks about serious issues affecting the African-American community, including racism, police brutality, and economic disparities, he often places blame for these societal problems on Jews.
Despite this record, the NOI has been given a measure of legitimacy by some mainstream figures in the African-American community, including elected officials and celebrities, who have stressed the group's focus on Black self-reliance and minimized the group's well established record of racism and anti-Semitism.
More than any other NOI leader, Louis Farrakhan has built a legacy of divisiveness as the leading anti-Semite in America. Under his leadership, the NOI has maintained a significant following, operating mosques across the country and attracting thousands of supporters to its annual events.
In recent years, Farrakhan has embarked on a wide-ranging anti-Jewish campaign, which has featured some of the most hateful speeches of Farrakhan’s career. Farrakhan has repeatedly alleged that the Jewish people were responsible for the slave trade and that they conspire to control the government, the media, Hollywood, and various Black individuals and organizations to this day.
He also frequently denies that Jews have a legitimate claim to their religion and to the land of Israel, claiming that Judaism is nothing more than a “deceptive lie” and a “theological error” promoted by Jews to further their control over America’s foreign and domestic policy and economy.
Farrakhan often promotes such messages at public speeches, some of which attract thousands of followers, such as his sermons for Saviours’ Day, an annual NOI holiday commemorating the birth of its founder.
During Part 2 of his 2015 Saviours’ Day keynote address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan used his platform to claim Israel and Jews orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. Farrakhan said, “Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks” and that Jews were warned ahead of time not to come to work that day. He then went on to speak more broadly of Israeli control of the American government, stating that Israel and Jews “don’t fear America because they control it from within.”
Such conspiratorial and hateful rhetoric is frequently a central part of Saviours’ Day sermons. During his keynote address to 18,000 people at the NOI's 2014 Saviours' Day convention at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Farrakhan likened himself to auto magnate Henry Ford, who promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies in the 1920s in The International Jew: the World’s Foremost Problem. Farrakhan called Ford “a great man who was called an anti-Semite” and added, “I feel like I’m in good company.” In Part 2 of his Saviours’ Day address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
During a sermon at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit in May 2013, Farrakhan told the audience that the “Synagogue of Satan,” a phrase he uses to refer to Jews, has “mastered civilization now, but they’ve mastered it in evil,” using its control of Hollywood and the media to “put you before the world in this disgraceful matter.”
In addition to promoting his hatred at large NOI events, Farrakhan attempted to reach new audiences with a 58-part online lecture series that ran from January 2013 through February 2014. In the series, titled The Time and What Must Be Done, Farrakhan frequently characterized Jews as “Satanic.” In Part 29, Farrakhan stated, “those Satanic so-called Jews in Hollywood have made evil fair seeming the way they have fed the American public!”
He also used the online sermons to promote his classic anti-Jewish conspiracies theories such as Jewish control of the media, the economy, and the government. In Part 12, Farrakhan told his audience that “Nobody becomes President of the United States without going before Israel or AIPAC and promising the Zionists everything that you think will allow you access to their wealth, their influence, and their power.” In Part 20, Farrakhan stated “The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin.”
In Part 19 Farrakhan addressed Jews directly, “Look at what you’ve done to this country. We can show how you rule Hollywood. We can prove how you are the king of the media. We can show and prove that you own most of the publishing houses, that you own most of the record companies that have these Black rappers in their filthy language saying things against their Black women and glorifying a life of crime and drugs. You permit it.”
Farrakhan also targets LGBT individuals during these online sermons. In part 55, he asked, “Do you really think that God approves of your same-sex marriage, and of the growth of homosexuality and lesbianism among the people? Do you really think that Almighty God Allah is pleased, America, that you are trying to export this to Africa, to Asia, to the Caribbean? Do you think Allah is pleased with you for bringing the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah to the entire world?”
The lecture series, which received an average of about 40,000 views per sermon, is part of a larger effort by the NOI’s media arm to spread its hate through a range of propaganda, including through its newspaper and various social media sites.
Farrakhan’s blatantly anti-Semitic public statements are just one part of the NOI’s larger anti-Jewish propaganda campaign. The NOI uses its programs, institutions, publications, and social media to disseminate its message of hate.
The NOI Research Group (NOIRG), which claims to serve as the NOI’s “historical research department,” promotes virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on its website and its social media accounts. For example, the NOIRG tweeted on August 24, 2014 that “Israeli airstrike in #Gaza levels 7-story building. Their last airstrike was on Sept 11, 2001.” The tweet is accompanied by a photo of smoke billowing from the World Trade Center.
In December 2013, the NOIRG similarly tweeted that “#Israel has an ugly history of deadly false flag operations, including 9/11…” This theme was echoed by Farrakhan himself during Part 2 of his 2015 Saviours’ Day keynote address at the Mosque Maryam in Chicago.
The NOIRG’s anti-Semitic articles are often later published in the NOI’s newspaper, The Final Call, which has promoted numerous anti-Jewish conspiracy theories over the years. The Final Call is the center piece of the NOI’s wide-ranging propaganda campaign against Jews.
The newspaper serves as a platform to further promote the NOI’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories both in its printed edition as well as through various websites, book publishing, and social media initiatives. The newspaper also widens the reach of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic sermons, publishing transcriptions of his remarks after they are delivered.
After the 2015 terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, a January 14 Final Call article by Assistant Editor Ashahed Muhammad cited a piece by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett titled “Paris Charlie Hebdo Attack: Another Zionist False Flag?” to claim that events in France could have been a false flag operation carried out by Jews.
A 2012 article titled The Secret Relationship Between Black Politicians and Jews, written by contributor Deric Muhammad, promoted the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews control all levels of American government, including the President himself. Another article by Deric Muhammad, The Secret Relationship Between Rappers and Jews, alleged Jewish control over African-Americans, specifically musicians.
The Final Call also promotes anti-Semitic publications, which are sold at NOI events.
Among the items for sale is The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a major NOI publication written by the organization's “Historical Research Department” in 1991. The book presents a multi-layered attack against Jews, arguing essentially that slavery in the New World was initiated by Jewish ship owners and merchants. This alleged domination of Blacks by Jews has continued into the present day, according to Farrakhan.
A second volume of the book, titled The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews Volume Two: How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy, has been heavily promoted in The Final Call and during NOI events since its release in summer 2010. The second volume expands on the original allegations that Jews played a disproportionate role in the transatlantic slave trade, which it claims resulted in deep and prolonged repercussions for African Americans. It further alleges that Jews refrained from participating in the abolition movement out of tolerance for the system of slavery and blames Jews for promoting a myth of black racial inferiority.
The NOI published an Instruction Course based on this book to facilitate the book’s teaching in schools. The 27-page document, which purports to be an educational resource, is rife with allegations about disproportionate Jewish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and Jewish exploitation of Blacks ever since. Some, but not all, of the charges levied against Jews are attributed to supposed “Jewish scholars,” as they are in the Secret Relationship books.
Much of the content attempts to demonstrate that Jewish teachings, along with Jews' deeply-rooted racism and greed, negatively shaped the Black experience. For example, the guide asserts that the practice of lynching is rooted in the Talmud and that the Talmud was likely “the source of the Sharecropping system that re-enslaved Blacks after Emancipation.”
Another book published in 2010 and available through the NOI is Jews Selling Blacks: Slave Advertising by American Jews, essentially a compilation of newspaper advertisements that purports to present “disturbing evidence of American Jewish participation in the Black African slave trade.”
The NOI also sells The Synagogue of Satan, published in 2005 by the Truth Establishment Institute and written by the NOI member Ashahed Muhammad. The book takes its title from a phrase in the New Testament book of Revelation (3:9), and applies this phrase to contemporary Jews and to Jews throughout history. The book's overarching theme is that unknown to most, the world is being manipulated and corrupted by Satanic powers led by Jewish elites. In exposing these powers the book trades heavily in Jewish conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. It alleges that these satanic powers are influenced and guided by the theology of Judaism, and by a Jewish predilection for immorality.
The themes of The Synagogue of Satan derive from a 1995 speech by Louis Farrakhan in which he claimed that Jewish organizations control the Federal Reserve, and a May 2003 speech in which he called Jewish members of the Bush Administration a “synagogue of Satan.”
The NOI has promoted the book since mid-October 2005, just after the 10th Anniversary Million Man March. The significant extent of the NOI's involvement in the work's development is described in the book's acknowledgments, where Ashahed Muhammad thanks NOI Minister Jabril Muhammad and the “Historical Research Department” of the NOI (which authored The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews) for their encouragement and editorial assistance.
The Nation of Islam’s 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March (also known as Holy Day of Atonement) will be held in Washington, DC on October 10, 2015.
The theme of this year’s anniversary is "Justice...or Else!" On July 30, Farrakhan shed light on meaning of the “…or else!” during the Miami stop of his multi-city tour to promote the event. He told his audience, "If the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us! Stalk them! And kill them! And let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling!"
Farrakhan has also used anti-Semitism and bigotry to promote the event. At the August 25 Detroit stop of his “Justice…Or Else!” tour, Farrakhan told his audience that “[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu can make a call from Israel and senators dance…Here’s a man, leave Israel and come to the U.S. Congress, and talk like he’s at home because he knows his people run the government. You didn’t hear me! Well, if his people run the government, they own the media, they own Hollywood.”
Farrakhan also incorporated homophobic sentiment into his anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, making the following claims: “Biden said that Hollywood members of the Jewish community single handedly made same sex marriage legal...You’re God’s chosen people?! And you promote something that God rejects? You’ve lost your covenant status! You are not the chosen of God, you are the chosen of Satan!…You’re promoting homosexuality. God doesn’t. You promote fifth. God condemns it!”
Farrakhan stated that a man who “would want to have sex with another man and say that I’m in love, see, this is a sick society!” Farrakhan also claimed Jews are responsible for the pornography industry, “Most of the 3X 4X 6X movies…most of it is run by members of the Jewish community.”
Farrakhan chastised the transgender community as well, describing Caitlyn Jenner’s transition as “science that is so wicked” claiming that transgender people are the work of Satan. He stated, “Satan wants to turn you so that God will reject you.”
The original Million Man March on October 16, 1995 was a gathering of African-Americans organized primarily by Farrakhan on the National Mall in Washington, DC. During the time leading up to the march, the NOI benefited from a degree of support from some in the mainstream African-American community, who stressed the group's focus on Black self-reliance and minimized the group's long hateful record.
The anniversary of the march is celebrated by the NOI each year. Previous Million Man March anniversaries have featured anti-Semitism, including Farrakhan’s two-part 2012 sermon in Chicago and Charlotte, when Farrakhan spread hateful anti-Semitic myths about Jewish control in the U.S. and other conspiracy theories.
In the lead-up to the 2015 anniversary, Farrakhan has received support from well-known rap artists and others, who are bringing Farrakhan’s message to a broader audience.
Instagram and Twitter posts from rap artists posing with Farrakhan in the lead up the 20th anniversary event have reached millions of followers. This represents a significantly larger reach than a post from Farrakhan’s Facebook account (173,000 followers) or his Twitter account (381,000 followers).
The Million Man March has also received support from elected officials in at least three states, including Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and New York State representatives and City Council members who attended Farrakhan’s June 5 event in Harlem.
Over past years, Farrakhan’s various health issues have raised questions about who will lead the group after him. Farrakhan’s last minute absence from the 2013 Holy Day of Atonement event in Tuskegee, Alabama may shed light some light on the future direction of the NOI’s leadership.
When Farrakhan was not able to give this annual keynote address due to a heart attack, Ishmael Muhammad, Assistant Minister at the NOI’s flagship mosque in Chicago and son of former NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, gave the keynote address in his absence.
Muhammad has long been regarded as the most likely successor to Farrakhan. His public role grew in 1999 when Farrakhan was seriously ill with complications from treatment for prostate cancer. And in 2006, when Farrakhan issued an open letter saying that he was relinquishing his leadership role with the group after nearly 30 years due to illness, Muhammad continued to play a central role in most major NOI events.
In 2007, W.D. Mohammed, another son of former NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, who rejected his father’s racist ideology and steered a new course away from hatred, reiterated the widely held belief that Ishmael Muhammad is the most likely contender for NOI leadership. During a lecture at the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas, W.D. said Ishmael is poised to “clear up the destruction of the religion in the Nation of Islam.”
Unlike Farrakhan, Muhammad does not have an extensive public record of anti-Semitism or bigotry, but he has frequently defended Farrakhan’s blatantly hateful messages. While Muhammad has discussed his reluctance to take on the leadership of the NOI on several occasions over the years, he continues to fill in for Farrakhan at the most critical moments.
In Indianapolis in December 2013, Farrakhan’s first public appearance after his heart attack, he demonstrated that he is not ceding leadership to anyone soon and his rhetoric was as inflammatory as ever. Among other things, he bluntly told his audience that “The American government is under control of the Zionists.”
The Nation of Islam, modeled after other socio-religious groups of in early 20th century, was founded in Detroit in 1930 by Fard Muhammad, who taught his followers that he was Allah personified. Upon Fard's disappearance later that decade, his disciple Elijah Muhammad took over and promoted the idea that whites were created by an evil Black scientist and that Blacks are the superior race. Under Elijah Muhammad's leadership, the NOI attracted a sizeable following and amassed a substantial financial empire.
The group expanded in the 1950s and 1960s when Malcolm X, a charismatic speaker who joined the group in prison, became its spokesman. He denounced the group in 1964 (a year before he was assassinated), but by then, the NOI's future leader, Louis Farrakhan, had joined NOI.
By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, the NOI had a large following across the country. His son, Warith/Wallace Deen Muhammad, inherited the leadership but steered the organization towards toward more traditional Islam. In response, Farrakhan formed a separate group to uphold Elijah Muhammad's original separatist beliefs, taking many members—and the Nation of Islam name—with him.
Farrakhan first became widely known in 1984, during Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign. Farrakhan endorsed Jackson's candidacy and encouraged his followers to do the same, ending NOI's policy of non-involvement in American politics. Farrakhan's participation in the campaign attracted a lot of attention, mostly concerning his anti-Semitic and racist statements. During this time he stated: “…the Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man…” While Jackson condemned Farrakhan's remarks, he has since taken part in several NOI events.
In subsequent years, Farrakhan was condemned for his consistent hate mongering, calling whites “blue eyed devils” and Jews “bloodsuckers.” Despite these condemnations and his long record of bigotry, Farrakhan and his organization have received public support from mainstream figures through emphasizing activism towards African-American self-reliance and economic development.