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Farrakhan: Racist or righteous?

The Muslim leader has made comments about Jews, whites, Catholics, women and homosexuals  

By CNN's Sarah Sultoon

LONDON, England -- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has been one of the world's most controversial black leaders, condemning almost all other races and religions for the "oppressed plight" of the black people.

Observers have described him as a "self-avowed racist" after he called Judaism "a gutter religion," the Pope an "Antichrist" and Adolf Hitler "a wickedly great man."

Farrakhan leads the Nation of Islam, which according to its mission statement was "founded on the basis of peace…to fight for the complete liberation of Black people in America and throughout the world."

Although both the Nation and traditional Islamic religion share the Koran as their basic text, the Nation describes the white race as "the product of a deranged black scientist's experiments" and advocates separatism, restricting its membership to those of Afro-Caribbean origin.

Analysts fear Farrakhan's renewed efforts to infiltrate Europe -- particularly the UK -- come as he observes racial tension in the north of England in recent weeks.

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Journalist David Krikler, formerly of the Maimonides Foundation in London -- a group promoting contact between Muslim and Jewish youth -- told CNN: "Where there is racism, where there are black communities that are disenfranchised, Farrakhan has a rich recruitment ground.

"It is highly likely that Farrakhan will try and tap into some of the racial tension that is currently gripping northern England."

But Patris Gordon, senior reporter at The Voice -- Britain's leading black newspaper -- said it was "very important" that Farrakhan be allowed into the country.

"Much of the media say Farrakhan is a racist, but that depends on your definition of racist. Any remotely "subversive" views have to be outspoken in order that they filter through to the mainstream," Gordon told CNN.

"What Farrakhan teaches is we (the black community) must educate ourselves and not rely on other people. We have had former Klan members, rapists and terrorists come into Britain, so why not someone who is just here to speak?"

Minister Ava Muhammad, Nation representative in southern Britain, described the ban as "a millstone around the neck of every black Briton."

Her comments came during her keynote speech at a June rally organised by the London branch of the Nation in an effort to energise the campaign against Farrakhan's indefinite exclusion from the country.

Last year's decision to extend the ban was termed a "ruse" by activists and supporters of the Muslim leader.

Minister Hilary Muhammad described the exclusion order as to "religious persecution" of members of the Nation in Britain.

"The British authorities will stop at nothing to prevent black people in England from hearing from a man who has the power from Allah (God) to redeem them," Minister Hilary said.

In 1998, Home Secretary Jack Straw upheld the ban after members of the Nation disrupted an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence -- a black teenager stabbed to death by a gang of allegedly white youths on the streets of London.

In a statement released after the incident the Nation said it had formed a line of protest outside the inquiry to show solidarity to Stephen Lawrence's family.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews told CNN: "Farrakhan's views amount to incitement of racial hatred. We have faith that the British justice system will uphold his permanent exclusion from the UK in the interests of race relations and racial harmony."

• Nation of Islam
• The Final Call

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