[Editor’s note: The following article contains excerpts from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s April 1, 2011 interview on WPFW-Pacifica Radio with Spectrum Today’s Askia Muhammad, along with regular panelist Wilmer Leon, host of XM Satellite Radio’s On With Leon. Brother Askia Muhammad is also a senior correspondent for The Final Call newspaper.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
Spectrum Today host Askia Muhammad (ST): Welcome to the airwaves of WPFW and to Spectrum Today, Minister Louis Farrakhan.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): Thank you, my dear brother. And I’m honored to be a part of your show.
ST: We’re honored to have you. In 1995, Minister Farrakhan convened the largest gathering of Black men in U.S. history when more than two million, mostly Black men, answered his call and came to Washington Monday, a working day, October 16, 1995, assembling on The Mall for the Million Man March. There was not one single arrest in Washington that day despite official fears which prompted Congress and the Federal government to shut down that day.
Following the Million Man March, Minister Farrakhan embarked on a World Friendship Tour where he cemented his relationships with many of the governments of Africa and the Muslim world; as well as with the towering world-revolutionary figures at that time: Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Fidel Castro of Cuba; Hafez Al-Assad of Syria; Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization; and of course, Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. Today, Arafat and Assad are no longer with us. Mandela and Castro are still alive, but have both retired from public life. Only Gadhafi remains in power, and that is tenuous. His power has been challenged by an armed rebellion aided by Western military superpowers.
Colonel Gadhafi is a longtime friend of the Nation of Islam. In 1973 he loaned Mr. Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan’s mentor, $3 million to purchase what was then a Greek Orthodox Church on Chicago’s Southside. The interest-free loan was paid back by Mr. Muhammad and his followers in its entirety. Today that building is Mosque Maryam, the headquarters of the Nation of Islam. Minister Farrakhan has made several visits and trips to Libya, including one where he helped turn the valve, opening a massive project to irrigate the Libyan Desert that was called “The Man-Made River.”
Meanwhile, however, Colonel Gadhafi has seen some of his most trusted military, as well as civilian, officials defect from his government; making charges that the Libyan leader is a “despot,” who has ordered brutal campaigns of murder and repression of his own population.
Minister Farrakhan, you have referred recently [in your March 31, 2011 Press Conference] to Colonel Gadhafi as a “friend,” and a “brother.” Can you share with us any information that might enlighten us beyond the “everybody hates Gadhafi” message that is all we hear in this country? And have you spoken personally with your friend and brother, Colonel Gadhafi?
HMLF: Thank you Brother Askia. No, I have not spoken with Brother Gadhafi for a number of years. And you know, the thing that has disturbed me is that in 1985, Ronald Reagan began to refer to Muammar Gadhafi as “The Mad Dog of the Middle East.” And when you start referring to a human being as a “mad dog,” as much beloved as dogs are, when they become “mad” the only thing that solves that is some form of death for that dog.
That kind of language is back in the public, and so referring to him as a “mad man,” as a “lunatic,” as “a man who kills his own people” is creating an atmosphere in the minds of those in America, who do not know Gadhafi, who do not know Libya, and who do not know the wickedness of the policies of our own government. And it sets the tone for murder, once again.
I would say to you, Brother Askia, if you visit Libya: If he’s a “mad man,” then the people in Libya would reflect his madness. What is the crime rate in Libya? What is the rate of rape and robbery, murder, in Libya? Nothing compared to the madness that is seen on the streets of America every day. He’s a “mad man”? But if you can go and find madness in the intelligent discourse of any that would sit and talk with him, he’s a revolutionary thinker, a brilliant man. And I know him as a friend.
And in spite of the tidal wave of negative publicity coming against him, I would be less than a brother, less than a man, if I would not stand in the face of that tidal wave and say, “Wait a minute! There are other things you should consider about this brother.”
ST: Is it possible that even notwithstanding the current conflict that Colonel Gadhafi has been in power too long? And perhaps might have served himself and his country better by having groomed others to take on the mantle of leadership?
HMLF: If you study Muammar Gadhafi, he started as a protÃ©gÃ© of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Gamal Abdel Nasser was a Muslim, but a Socialist; and therefore as a Socialist, he ignited the dislike of The Muslim Brotherhood. So when you have those who are purely religious, dealing with a governmental leader who is a Muslim, but is leaning towards Socialism, you have a dynamic in your country that you’re going to now have to repress those who are coming against you and your government.
I’ve watched Muammar Gadhafi over the last 40 years transform from a “Muslim, Socialist-leaning” leader into a Muslim who now backs away from some of the Socialist ideas that he originally had; [and] was leaning more and more and more toward understanding, transmitting, the Qur’an, and being one who would be a reformer in the world of Islam. And so that would ignite again, in the Eastern region, the Wahhabis, people who are Salafis, against him because they would see him as “a man who has gone off The Path of God,” while he would see himself as a “reformer.”
And when you say he’s been in power “too long”: You know, I was with him many years ago when he stepped back as the revolutionary leader. Once he established the popular committees, he became the “Brother Leader” and “Guide of The Revolution,” but the day-to-day work was assigned to the popular committees. His idea was another type, or form, of democracy, where the people themselves became the government. And I was with him when he sat with other revolutionary presidents in Africa, and he said to them, “If you are a revolutionary, you have to stay to guide the Revolution until the idea that produced the Revolution is cemented in the hearts and minds of the people.” This “democracy” that has been imposed on Africa, where you only have “two terms and step out,” that means that if you start something, you cannot be in power long enough to see it through.
Moses was a revolutionary prophet, if you will. He was leading at 120 years. It’s not the length of years that you lead, it’s the quality of the service that you give in the years that you lead. And I submit to you: What upset me was that our president and the secretary of state could say to a man who took his country from ignominy in 1969, and built a nation over 42 years, and these arrogant leaders of ours would tell a man like that: “You’ve outlived your usefulness. Step down and get out!”
On With Leon host Dr. Wilmer Leon (WL): [During his March 28, 2011 address at National Defense University in Washington, D.C.], President Obama referred to Colonel Gadhafi as a “tyrannical dictator,” but interestingly, Pres. Obama months before was embracing Colonel Gadhafi; [Col. Gadhafi] was welcomed in France. In fact, up until a couple of weeks [prior], the United States was going to sell him $44 million of armored personnel carriers.
What do you think has brought about this almost immediate 180-degree turnaround in the relationship between the West and Libya? And then secondly, what message do you think this sends going forward to other leaders who are engaged in relations with the United States?
HMLF: Well, it seems to me, my dear brother, that this 180-degree turn was almost all of a sudden. The Western nations that were cultivating friendship, and cultivating Muammar Gadhafi, were inside his country doing business. Not any of them were threatened; the streets in Libya were peaceful. Now, all of a sudden, France, England, Germany, Italy, Canada–all of them turned on Muammar Gadhafi. So what I found in our research was that two years ago, Gadhafi was thinking about nationalizing the oil in order to get a greater profit from the oil companies that were doing business in his country. He started re-negotiating contracts with all of these companies that were doing business in Libya; and gained an extra $5.4 billion for the Libyan people.
Now something happened when they saw a crack in the man’s strength of leadership, which started on the 15th of February in the Eastern region. And all of a sudden, all of these that were “friendly” with him, turned on him. Brother Gadhafi came in “out of the cold” under George W. Bush, where he gave up all his weapons of mass destruction; he gave up scud missiles. And then, he sat down with the West and was making himself a man, hopefully, that the West could accept.
No, I think they discovered something that all of them had to attack him, because when they joined forces against him, and thought he was going to be through; and our president said he has “lost the legitimacy” to rule in Libya, and he should step down, and get out–at that point they thought that Gadhafi was gone. But though he was not prepared for war, he summoned the strength of his loyal followers and began a march, and all of the cities that were taken by the rebels, one-by-one he took them back. So the United Nations, and our president and the White House, had to act quickly; act in such a foolish way that it disturbed the peace of his own government.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said we had to do this “on the fly.” Why “on the fly”? Because if Gadhafi was going to take Tobruk, and solidify that whole country again under his leadership … the fact that he had been betrayed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he financed that man to become president; he was betrayed by Cameron, by Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi! Well, then, if the man now wins his country back: Revenge. And Brother Gadhafi also said, “No more oil to Europe”–and Europe is the biggest buyer of the sweet crude of Libya! So he had to get him out, and get him out quick, so that they would have access to the sweetest crude in the world, which is what Europe needs to survive an energy crisis.
So, for their own success and future, they felt they had to take him out, and take him out fast; and that is why he couldn’t follow through, like he should have. When UN Resolution 1973 ordered a “No-Fly Zone”–which is an act of war, committing troops and ships to a theatre of operation–it was the duty of every signer of the United Nations Charter to go back to their respective countries and go through their constitutional mandate.
The constitutional mandate of America, of course, has been violated, because they didn’t have time. Our president did not even go before the Congress; he may have called a few of them. Believe me, this foolish action has made Brother Obama and the White House and the Administration look terrible in the eyes of wiser politicians in the government. In fact, I think it was the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who said it was an “amateurish operation.”
WL: If President Obama is taking this action in response to Colonel Gadhafi’s wanting to nationalize oil, this takes me back to 1952 with Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, and how the CIA removed him for the same reasons, so it seems as though this is history repeating itself. And this ties into your saying in 1991 before George Herbert Walker Bush went into the Gulf War, that that was going to be the beginning of a number of precipitant events. Are we seeing, now, those events that you predicted back in 1991?
HMLF: Well, my dear brother, I really believe that what our administration has done has hurt America greatly. In the rush to destroy one man, America did not think of the range of influence of that one man in Africa and in the Middle East–despite the fact that there are some African leaders who did not trust his leadership; and there are some Arab leaders who really do not like Muammar Gadhafi. Yet, America, after a UN Security Council Resolution, thought that they had to have Arab cover for their wicked intention against Gadhafi, so they prevailed on Amr Moussa of the Arab League; and some of the members of the Arab League. And from what I understand, there are 22 members of the Arab League, but only eight of them met and voted on this–not even enough for a quorum! And Amr Moussa was convinced that there may be a humanitarian crisis, so he voted.
Barack Obama has come before the American people echoing this, that “it would have been a humanitarian crisis.” One existed in Liberia, but America did not intervene! There are thousands of refugees fleeing Liberia under a civil war. Now, there seems to be a civil war brewing in CÃ´te d’Ivoire, and France is not intervening! There’s a humanitarian crisis developing there! This is using noble sentiments to hide wicked motivations! And so, America is losing.
And if they kill Brother Gadhafi, I submit to you that American interests in Africa will come under severe strain. That man has invested in Africa more than any other leader in the recent history of Africa’s coming to political independence. It is Muammar Gadhafi who took the OAU from the “Organization of African Unity”; and I was there present with him when he projected onto the OAU the ideas of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and Gamal Abdel Nasser of a “United States of Africa.” So the first step in that process was the African Union–I was present at the launching of the Union!
And from the day that that Union was launched, Europe was upset! They set up NEPAD, and they were setting up among the North African nations a Mediterranean-kind of coalition between South Europe and North Africa. Again, to fracture Africa, because with a Unified Africa, the West would not easily have access to the strong mineral resources of Africa which America needs to be a world power in the 21st Century. They made a tremendous blunder.
ST: Minister Farrakhan, I must ask you about another really controversial topic. The Nation of Islam Research Group has published a new volume of The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (Volume 2). Not surprisingly, the Anti-Defamation League has denounced it as “anti-Semitic.”
Among Blacks there has been the predictable “knee-jerk” reaction against you as well. But there are some thoughtful Black intellectuals who have posed these questions which I would like you to address: “Why would you pick a fight with a group that is viewed as having been an ally of Blacks in modern times in the Civil Rights Movement?” And more importantly they ask: “As well-researched and documented as the book may be, what does this book, as well as the quarrel with the American Jewish Community, do to advance the struggle for Black liberation?”
HMLF: I think we have made a grave mistake. We have been deceived into thinking that the Jews have been our allies in our recent Civil Rights struggle.
“Allies” for what purpose? When the NAACP was founded by Joel Spingarn, several Jews, and Ralph Bunche and a few other Blacks, I think W.E.B. DuBois, as well, it was never to be anything that would be economic development to Black people. The theme of the Civil Rights Movement, according to our research, was “non-economic liberalism.” So even though we got the right to vote, and we have all of these mayors, a few governors and sheriffs and city council persons, and whatnot, what is the condition of Black people under this so-called political advancement?
We’ve had 40 years in the Congress with some of the most brilliant Black men and women in the Black Caucus–but what is the advantage to the “little man” in the street? We have a Black president for the first time, but what is the meaning of that to the economic development, jobs and justice for Black people in the street? You have been deceived, Black America!
Yes, he poses as your “friend”: He’s with you as an agent! He’s with you as a manager! He’s with you as an investor! He’s with you as a guide in economic development! But he has never asked you to do what he has done! He networks with other rich, influential Jews; and he buys, he invests! He’s in trade and commerce! When have our Black millionaires and billionaires even come together to discuss the plight of Black people economically; and then used that influence to create jobs, and trade and commerce when a whole world is outside waiting for us to emerge? No! You’ve been deceived! And as Malcolm says, “You’ve been hooked! You’ve been bamboozled!” A real friend would guide you to the way that they were guided to become rich, powerful and influential!
ST: The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. We are so grateful that you have taken time to be with us on this program, on our “News View” of Spectrum Today.
HMLF: Thank you, Brother Askia, for the honor and privilege of being on your show. I thank your guest who was on this show, and thank your wonderful listening audience. I hope, Brother Askia, we can do this again, and soon. God bless you.