October 13, 1995
Web posted at: 5:45 a.m. EDT
From CNN Producer Kelly Wallace
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Nation of Islam has requested a meeting with its chief detractor, the Anti-Defamation League. Brother Leonard Farrakhan Mahummad, the Nation's chief of staff, said Thursday that he had sent a letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, asking for a meeting with Foxman and other Jewish leaders.
The request comes just days before the Nation of Islam- sponsored Million Man March on October 16 in Washington. The ADL has sharply criticized Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, for his alleged anti-Semitism.
"I talked with Farrakhan today and he asked me to make contact with Abraham Foxman and other Jewish leaders to ask that during this time of atonement that we attempt to have dialogue and discuss our differences," said Mahummad at a Thursday news conference.
Mahummad said the Nation of Islam requested a meeting either October 20 or 21 -- after Monday's Million Man March -- at "any time or any place." He also said an October 22 meeting was possible if the other two dates were not available.
Mahummad said the Nation of Islam extended this type of invitation to the ADL before, but the answer was no. "If not then, maybe now," said Mahummad.
Benjamin Chavis, national director for the march, also attended the news conference at the DC Office of Emergency Preparedness. Both he and Mahummad strongly denounced claims that some African American men would be attending the march because they support its purpose but not Farrakhan, the march's organizer.
"The people are coming to DC because they support the honorable Louis Farrakhan," said Mahummad. "This government should be ready. Louis Farrakhan has become a major force in this nation, a leader in the black community and outside the community."
Chavis echoed Mahummad's comments. "I've traveled all over the U.S. and people are responding not only to the presence of the honorable Louis Farrakhan but they are responding to the truth of the message of black Americans," he said.
At the news conference, Mahummad also called on President Clinton to use the power of his office to focus on race relations.
"As a result of O.J. Simpson and how differently blacks and whites view the result of the verdict, we believe it is appropriate for the President to call a conference on race relations," he said. "As it is important in Bosnia and in Palestine and Israel to work for peace, we believe it is time to work inward for peace within the U.S. among blacks and whites."
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