Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

The Nation of Islam

Image of Louis Farrakhan giving a speech

Louis Farrakhan 

Louis Farrakhan: America’s Leading Anti-Semite

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 Louis Farrakhan, who has espoused and promoted anti-Semitism and racism throughout his 30-year tenure 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 blames Jews for these societal problems.

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 chosen to focus on the group's efforts to bolster black self-reliance, while minimizing the group's well-established record of racism and anti-Semitism.

Farrakhan’s Record of 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 his career.  He has repeatedly alleged that the Jewish people were responsible for the slave trade as well as the 9/11 attacks, and that they continue conspire to control the government, the media, Hollywood, and various Black individuals and organizations.

Farrakhan 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 economy and foreign and domestic policy.

Farrakhan often promotes these messages at public events, some of which attract thousands of followers. This includes his sermons for Saviours’ Day, the annual NOI holiday commemorating the birth of its founder, W. Fard Muhammad, as well as the speech he gives at the yearly Million Man March/Holy Day of Atonement.

During his 2017 Saviours’ Day speech, Farrakhan said that contemporary Jews are “not really Jews but are in fact Satan.” He went on to describe Jews as “great and master deceiver[s],” and encouraged his followers to consider Jews “the enemy of God and the enemy of the righteous.” He also alleged that all Jews, including Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are disloyal to the United States:

“When you say, Mr. Trump, ‘America first,’ ask any Jew, even your son-in-law. America is never first, Israel is always first. And as long as Israel is first then whatever you think or plan will be in Israel before you leave the room in the White House. Mr. Trump, you have to extricate yourself from being controlled by any one of these.”

 In his 2016 Saviours’ Day address, Farrakhan praised then-candidate Donald Trump as “the only man...that stood in front of some members of the Jewish community and told them 'I don’t want your money'... Any time a man can say to those who control the politics of America, ‘I don’t want your money,’ that means if I don't take your money, you can’t control me. And they cannot afford to give up control of the Presidents of the United States.” Farrakhan did not offer a full endorsement of Trump, stating, “Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m looking at.”

 Farrakhan used his 2015 Saviours’ Day keynote at Mosque Maryam in Chicago 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.”

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 his 1920s pamphlets, 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.”

During a May 2013 sermon at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, 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 November 2017, Farrakhan held a two hour-long press conference at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., which he called a warning to President Trump. Farrakhan stood before a large poster of the second volume of the Nation of Islam book, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” which is filled with conspiratorial anti-Semitic propaganda that blames Jews for promoting a myth of black racial inferiority and makes false accusation about Jewish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Farrakhan defended the use of the anti-Semitic reference to New York as “Hymietown” because “the Jewish people have great control and power” in that city. During that same speech he claimed that Jews who “owned a lot of plantations” were responsible for undermining black emancipation after the Civil War.

In addition to pro­moting 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 conspiracy 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 uses the online sermons to target LGBT individuals. 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 the NOI’s larger effort to spread its hate through a range of propaganda, including its newspaper and social media platforms.

History: Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam, modeled after other socio-religious groups of the early 20th century, was founded in Detroit in 1930 by Fard Muhammad, who taught his followers that he was Allah incarnate. 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 while in prison, became its spokesman. He denounced the group in 1964 (a year before he was assassinated), but by then NOI's future leader, Louis Farrakhan, had joined NOI.

When 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 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 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, including, “…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.”

Farrakhan and Iran

Farrakhan traveled to Iran in 2016, and was a “special guest” at multiple high-level events, meeting with current and former Iranian government officials including Grand Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. According to the NOI newspaper, Farrakhan was a guest of honor at an official ceremony that was also attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Farrakhan, who visited Iran in 1996, previously met with Rouhani in 2013.

During a press conference after an event marking the 37th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, Farrakhan stated, “Whenever America wants to destroy a nation, a people, they must first demonize them, and the Zionist-controlled media in America has chosen to demonize Iran.”

 Farrakhan also claimed, via the NOI newspaper, that Jews conspire to divide Muslims. Farrakhan said, “I call [this group of Jews] the Synagogue of Satan…In the book of Revelations, it reads, those who say they are Jews and are not, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan. And they are working day and night to destroy any unity among Muslims.”

The NOI’s Anti-Jewish Pro­pa­ganda Cam­paign

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 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 then-Assistant Editor Asha­hed Muham­mad cited a piece by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Kevin Bar­rett headlined “Paris Char­lie Hebdo Attack: Another Zion­ist False Flag?”  to bolster his 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. The follow-up book, 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 third volume alleges that early 20th century “Jewish businessmen” worked to subjugate black people and enrich themselves by masterminding the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. NOI also claims that Jews were secretly responsible for the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of murdering a white Christian girl in 1913. Frank was posthumously pardoned in 1986 based on the state of Georgia’s inability to protect him while he was incarcerated.

The authors argue that Jewish teachings, along with Jews' deeply-rooted racism and greed, negatively shaped the African-American 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.”

The 2010 NOI book Jews Selling Blacks: Slave Advertising by American Jews is 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 Ashahed Muhammad, who was previously the Assistant Editor of The Final Call. 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.

Today, the Nation of Islam Research Group, led by Demetric Muhammad and Ilia Rashad Muhammad, continues to publish anti-Semitic pieces that promote these Jewish control conspiracies.

In September 2017, NOI student Minister Wesley Muhammad claimed that Jews and the U.S. government are engaged in a “Pot Plot” to emasculate black men and turn them into homosexuals by distributing specially modified strains of marijuana.

During a nearly two-hour long tirade, Muhammad explained that the “Pot Plot is not the paranoid racial fantasizing of your brother, but the Pot Plot is the actual scheme of your enemy.” He continued, “It’s the US government and the Synagogue of Satan’s scheme to use manipulated marijuana along with other drugs to de-masculinize and feminize the black male of America.”

Muhammad’s “Pot Plot” hypothesis is just the latest in a long line of NOI conspiracy theories about Jews.

An NOI Mother’s Day event in New Orleans on May 11, 2017 called “Testimonies of Extraordinary Women,” was a nearly three hour-long panel of four women, including NOI spokesperson Ava Muhammad, praising Farrakhan. When an audience member asked why it’s necessary for him [Farrakhan] to keep attacking the Jewish community, and how those attacks benefit the African-American community, the crowd responded with laughter, perhaps anticipating Muhammad’s answer. Her fiery response seemed to satisfy their expectations: Calling Jews “godless,” and bringing the crowd to their feet, Muhammad proclaimed, “We will be free of this bloodsucking parasite so they will no longer be able to sell us alcohol, drugs, depraved sex, and every other type of low-life thing that is keeping us from hereafter.”

2015: Million Man March 20th Anniversary

The Nation of Islam’s 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March (also known as Holy Day of Atonement) was held Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2015.

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, D.C. Leading up to the march, the NOI benefited from a degree of support from some in the mainstream African-American community, who chose to underscore the organization’s promotion of black self-reliance, while minimizing NOI’s long record of hateful commentary.

NOI celebrates the anniversary of the march each year, and pre­vi­ous Mil­lion Man March anniver­saries have showcased their leader’s anti-Semitism, includ­ing Farrakhan’s two-part 2012 ser­mon in Chicago and Char­lotte, when Far­rakhan spread a range of hate­ful conspiracy theories about Jewish “control.”

In the lead-up to the 2015 anniversary, Far­rakhan received sup­port from well-known rap artists who helped deliver 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 reached millions of fol­low­ers, outperforming Farrakhan’s own Face­book account (which boasts more than 1 million fol­low­ers and 935K page “likes”) or his Twit­ter account (472K followers).

The Million Man March has also received sup­port from elected offi­cials in at least three states, includ­ing Con­gress­woman Yvette Clarke, New York State rep­re­sen­ta­tives and City Coun­cil mem­bers who attended Farrakhan’s June 2015 event in Harlem.

Future Direction of NOI Leadership

In recent years, Farrakhan’s health issues have raised questions about his plan of succession.  NOI provided a hint of what future leadership might look like when, after Farrakhan’s 2013 heart attack, the organization tapped Ishmael Muhammad to deliver a keynote address in his place.

Muhammad, the Assis­tant Min­is­ter at the NOI’s flag­ship mosque in Chicago and son of for­mer NOI leader Eli­jah Muham­mad, has long been regarded as Far­rakhan’s most likely successor. 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, 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 crit­i­cal moments.

In December 2013, at his first public appearance following his heart attack, Farrakhan made it clear he had no plans to step aside. His rhetoric, meanwhile, was as inflammatory as ever.  “The Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment,” he informed his audience, “is under con­trol of the Zion­ists.”

Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

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