DETROIT–Appearing before a packed audience at Little Rock Baptist Church Oct. 8, the leader of the Nation of Islam gave a major speech that hammered away at presidential calls for war with Iraq.
He argued for public backing of measures to avert war and seek peace.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan also predicted that if war breaks out, he and others who are outspoken in opposition to war will be arrested under Homeland Security measures.
With media appearances on radio that morning, the evening meeting was a more official kick-off to an important three-day visit to the Motor City.
Not only did thousands hear his call for peace over the airwaves, at the church and a visit to an Arab American community in nearby Dearborn, Mich., the city council heard him before honoring him with three proclamations.
Outside the church, lines began to swell hours before his message was to be delivered and before doors were opened. Pastor Jim Holley gave a rousing welcome before Min. Dawud Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque No. 1, introduced the Minister to a standing room only crowd inside the church and packed into overflow rooms and the church gymnasium.
“President Bush gave a sabre rattling speech Monday night that would make a brass monkey ready to go to war,” said Min. Farrakhan, standing poised in the church pulpit.
He was referring to a major primetime television address by President George W. Bush the night before. The president used the speech to try to galvanize public support for military action against Iraq. But what is needed is not an emotional appeal or half-truths designed to manipulate grief that remains from Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Americans, Min. Farrakhan said.
In the Nation of Islam, which was founded in Detroit in the 1930s, the believers are taught to seek the actual facts, he noted. “Before you can arrive at a proper conclusion, you must have arrived at actual facts. … If you make a judgment based on suspicion you have been unjust to yourself,” he said, citing verses from the Holy Qur’an.
The president’s rationale for launching a pre-emptive or unilateral strike against Iraq did not offer evidence that would justify such action, he argued.
President Bush cited suspicions, not evidence, and omitted important truths about the conflict with Saddam Hussein, he said. Many people have been wrongfully killed based on assumption and circumstantial evidence, Min. Farrakhan added.
“As the leader of the greatest power on earth, he cannot commit war on the basis of suspicion,” the Minister said.
In his sabre rattling, President Bush did not share how the U.S. helped arm Iraq and backed the Iraqi regime in a bloody 1980s war against Iran, the Minister said.
The thirst for war against Iraq is a personal vendetta fed by U.S. desires to control oil, powerful pro-Israel lobbyists who seek Saddam Hussein’s ouster and a power trip–not national security, Min. Farrakhan said.
The president is using emotional and political manipulation to get approval for a desired military course, Min. Farrakhan asserted.
Congress was rushed to vote on a resolution that gives the president major power to act militarily against Iraq, he said. The resolution was passed Oct. 10. Mr. Bush knew as congressmen return home for mid-term elections they would feel obligated to back the resolution, lest voters punish them for not siding with the president at a critical time, he explained.
“Now he (Mr. Bush) has made Americans to feel Iraq is a threat to world peace. There are only three nations on the earth that agree, two beside himself. They are Israel and Tony Blair, not even the English people,” Min. Farrakhan said.
The U.S. is ignoring world opinion in pursuit of its goals in the name of global and national security, he continued. “Will the real threat to world peace please stand up,” the Minister said, saying a pre-emptive strike at Iraq would be unprecedented and set the stage for future regime changes at the whim of U.S. presidents.
Min. Farrakhan also pointed out the hypocrisy in the president’s statement that he held no animosity towards the Iraqi people and talk of weapons of mass destruction. In the Gulf War, America used nuclear-tipped weapons on Iraq, he said.
To justify their actions, the wicked first demonize their target, said the Nation of Islam leader. That is why Saddam Hussein is called a wicked man today and his acts against his own people are cited, though the U.S. didn’t care about his abuses when he was doing America’s bidding, he said.
“This is a pattern of the wicked. Every Black leader that they have destroyed, they first demonized. They use this to get us to go along with them, by believing what the media said,” Min. Farrakhan noted.
Iraq lacks the capability to strike America, he said. Still “the president says Saddam is working to get a missile, we got to take him out now, not because he’s got it. But even if he is thinking like that, we got to get him for his thoughts.”
Min. Farrakhan characterized the president’s Oct. 7 national address as the “most deceitful speech ever given by a president of the United States.”
If America unleashes the dogs of war, every nation on earth will be afraid, Min. Farrakhan observed. That will only create more hatred and hostility from around the globe, not only in Arab and Muslim states, but also amongst her erstwhile allies, he warned.
The casualties will bring pain to U.S. families, so those who oppose war must speak out and not be afraid of consequences, the Minister said.
“I wanted to come back to Detroit because of the time. There are more Muslims and Arabs in this area then probably any other area of the United States. At a time when Christians, Arabs and Muslims, Muslims in particular, are under a sort of siege, I wanted our Muslim and Christian family to know that you are not alone,” he said.
“This is a time of testing and if you follow through with what you know you have been taught, then Islam will be established. But it can only be established if we are able to withstand the suffering and persecution that comes when a new truth is introduced,” Min. Farrakhan said.
He referred to the historical suffering of early Christians and how the religion was later hijacked by Constantine and corrupted.
“From the message of peace, from the message of justice, the message of freedom, from the message of atonement and redemption, an imperialistic mentality was imposed on the message of Jesus Christ. The Christians went throughout the world killing native people in the name of Jesus. Religion has been used to fulfill some of the imperialistic designs of some of its leaders,” Min. Farrakhan said.
Prophet Muhammad of Arabia was not a terrorist, he said, referring to a slanderous assertion by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. The West fears Islam’s ability to free people and challenge oppression, he said.
Whites used Christianity to keep Blacks subordinate but freedom fighters like Nat Turner found the strength to fight slavery in the Bible, he said.
The Minister chided the Rev. Falwell, urging the conservative Christian leader to remember church racism would not allow Blacks and Whites to even be equals in church. The terror Blacks experienced has come from White Christians, some of whom wore hoods and proudly proclaimed their faith as they persecuted and slaughtered Blacks, he added.
Min. Farrakhan also spoke about the controversy over the hit movie “Barbershop.” He noted a gap between the young and the old. “Somebody paid a price for you to sit where you sit. You have to be careful of who writes your scripts. Don’t be a prostitute,” he said.
Min. Farrakhan then defended the work of Rosa Parks, whom he referred to as “mother,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King to obtain greater opportunity for Blacks.
In closing, he criticized President Bush’s domestic failures: “Forty-two million Americans needing health care, health insurance, 15 million homeless, a sniper loose in Maryland, people afraid but not of Saddam Hussein, it’s Bush and his policies. The man that would not send a high level delegation to South Africa (for last year’s UN World Conference Against Racism). He would not say a word against racial profiling, but he is going to send my Black brothers and sisters to die in Iraq? My Hispanic family, my Arab, Asian and poor White people to die for the rich? I say heck no.”
The Minister urged Americans to unite across racial, religious and ethnic lines for peace. “Keep your nation safe and keep your nation strong. If the warmongers continue, maybe what we need is a regime change. Blessed are the peacemakers,” Min. Farrakhan said.
An overwhelming reception in Detroit
From the inner city, through the halls of government to the suburbs of Dearborn, Mich., Min. Farrakhan was received gladly by those who heard him.
Gary Robinson called the Little Rock message the greatest speech he had ever heard. “It gave me and my family encouragement and hope,” he said.
Callie Muhammad, of Columbus, Ohio, described the address at Little Rock Baptist Church as powerful and timely. “He set the record straight in terms of what’s going on with the United States in terms of the Middle East and Iraq. He is a powerful voice from God in a very dark hour,” she said.
Lenore Pennington, of Detroit, found his words to be very instructional. “I was very uplifted and he gave me a lot of history about what is going on in Iraq that I was not aware of and I am so glad that I came. This was the first time I have seen him in person,” Ms. Pennington said.
“I was taken back by his speech. Some things that were said I didn’t know. He just educated me from a lot of standpoints. I am really afraid for him. When he made the statement that he may be arrested, I am very concerned about that,” said Joe Palmore.
Min. Dawud Muhammad, of Detroit, said the Minister’s visit was pulled together in three weeks. The Muslims worked feverishly with friends in city government and the religious community, he said.
“Detroit is a very unique city where the consciousness of the people, once the word gets out appropriately, the response is equally appropriate,” he said.
Discussing Min. Farrakhan’s historic address before the Detroit City Council, Minister Dawud said former congresswoman Barbara-Rose Collins, now a city council member, worked with him to make it happen. The 500-seat auditorium was full and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick warmly greeted and met privately with Min. Farrakhan.
Minister Dawud shared his view of the value of the Detroit trip. “It represents a critical point in this country in terms of its decision making as to how to take the next step after September 11,” he said.
The positive response of the people is indicative of the response that will be felt as the Minister visits other cities and his words circulate throughout the country, Min. Dawud added.
At the city council meeting, Min. Farrakhan said that a referendum on war is needed.
When the Minister appeared before the City Council, Councilwoman Collins publicly stated she would sacrifice her life for him. “I meant that literally. Just as I would for Martin Luther King Jr., I would for the Minister. He has transformed the lives of millions of Black men. I believe he is a prophet from God,” she said Mary Ann Mahaffey, city council president, told The Final Call she felt the Minister’s war stance was on target. “I think his position is absolutely correct. We do not need to do a pre-emptive strike. There is no evidence they have weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I agree with his position and I am delighted to hear it and he does it beautifully.”
Words for the Muslim community
Imam Abdul Latif Berri of the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, in Dearborn, Mich., Oct. 10 hosted Min. Farrakhan, who offered heartfelt words of assurance and comfort to the Arab American and immigrant Muslim community. His message completed the last leg of his visit. Dearborn is home to the largest immigrant Islamic community in the nation.
Min. Farrakhan told hundreds that packed the Institute auditorium that since Sept. 11, 2001 the world has changed. “As a result, many Muslims have felt the pain of rejection, racial profiling, abuse, even death as the hatred against the Muslims continues to grow,” he observed.
“I came to Detroit not only to speak to my own constituents, but to come here to show solidarity with the Arab-Muslim community, to let you know that we will not stand by and allow you to suffer and we not come to your aid in a time such as this.”
The Minister brought a message of unity, saying today’s trials leave the Islamic community little choice but to close ranks.
“Many of you are from various countries in the Arab and Muslim world. These countries sometimes don’t talk to each other. When you come to America, you find the Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis coming together, still some of these divisions exist. Since 9/11 the persecution forces us to need one another,” Min. Farrakhan said.
“If you are a Muslim today, preach the unity of the ummah (community) believing in Allah and his servant Muhammad (PBUH) and believing in the ultimate book, the Qur’an. I came to really offer comfort. I know that there is fear and some trepidation.”
Minister Farrakhan told the audience that because he is against war with Iraq, many wrongly feel he supports Saddam Hussein. Many in the audience may feel timid about criticizing war plans, not wanting to appear anti-American, he added.
“I am for a principle bigger than any individual. I take this as my duty as a Muslim. I thank Allah that I live in the United States of America where this constitution gives me the freedom of speech. If I see that something is wrong, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) tells me I can’t sit silently by and let it happen,” Min. Farrakhan said.
As for his position on Iraq, the Minister shared his concern for those who may have suffered under the present regime. But it must be changed from within and not through the interference of the United States and England, he said.
One of the strongest points of the Minister’s address was his call for Muslims to be concerned about each other, regardless of ethnic identification. “Muslim charities are being picked off one by one. Then you read but you don’t go and see, that’s your problem. Your brother is hurt but you act like he’s not your brother. ‘Oh, he’s from some other country,’ you say. If he says, ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,’ then we ought to see about that brother.
“I have lived here all my life and I have seen people railroaded when they are not liked. You are going to see this now. You are going to experience what you never experienced before,” he said.
“There is a fear in America that Islam will grow and ultimately change the culture of this nation. Can you imagine millions of sisters covered down? Closing down massage parlors, millions that don’t drink anymore? Can you imagine what an Islamic social system would be like in America, and in all the major cities you would hear five times a day the call to prayer?” he asked.
The real threat in Iraq is not weapons of mass destruction, but the country’s advances in science and technology, said Min. Farrakhan. Meanwhile Israel has weapons of mass destruction and the delivery system to hit any Arab country it wished, he said.
“The United Nations is all right. But this Qur’an is what should govern Muslims. Not the laws made by man but the laws revealed by God. … We are so divided and so weak as an ummah that Satan is rejoicing over the weakness and corruption of the leadership of the Muslim world.”
The Qur’an was revealed in a context, with every verse a result of something that was happening, he pointed out. “You have the whole book now but what is missing is the context to allow the book to live. This is a living book. Now it has context thanks to 9/11,” he said, citing Surah (chapter) 29 of the Holy Qur’an, which says Allah will test the believer severely once a year.
“If America drops bombs and sends in troops and body bags come back to America with American solders in it killed by Iraqi Muslims, then you can look for a greater rise in hatred towards us who are Muslims,” he said. “So if we don’t come together as a family and embrace each other and help each other and strengthen each other, this dark night will see many of us shown up as liars. Allah says I am certainly going to try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of life and loss of property … but give good news to those who are patient and steadfast under trial.
“Allah is God, he has power over all things. You have to believe that. As powerful as President Bush is there is no God but Allah,” the Minister, in part, concluded.
The Islamic Institute of Knowledge reception was warm and brotherly, with an extremely attentive audience.
“He broke it down as to what we as Muslims need to do to get through these troubled times. The truth is the truth. The Qur’an says when the truth comes it bashes the brains out of falsehood,” Muddasar Tawakkul told The Final Call. He called the lecture “astonishing.”
Asif Hazimd called Min. Farrakhan the hero of Islam in America.
“He is very strong and his speech is excellent for the whole world ummah. All over the Muslim world we are supposed to be in unity and to help one Muslim to another. I want and I wish to be like a Farrakhan. My message is each and every Muslim needs to be like a Farrakhan,” he said.