Black Leader Farrakhan Vows UK Visit Despite Ban

Reuters/May 31, 2002

London -- U.S. black activist Louis Farrakhan, who was barred from entering Britain, said on Friday his troubled relationship with the Jewish community in the United States formed the basis of his ban from the UK.

The leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam told the Guardian newspaper in an interview he still wanted to bring his message to his UK followers and that Britain had nothing to fear from listening to him.

Farrakhan, who once called Judaism a "gutter religion'' and said Adolf Hitler was a "wickedly great man,'' was banned from Britain in 1986 because the government said he expressed racist and anti-Semitic views.

Last year, lawyers for Farrakhan challenged the ban in Britain's High Court, saying he had "moved on'' and was regarded in America as a significant spokesperson for the black community. But the government won the legal battle in April and the ban remains in place.

In the interview, he dated his troubled relationship with the American Jewish community back to 1984 when he supported U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, by far the most pro-Palestinian contender in the campaign.

"I think it's because after the Jesse Jackson campaign there was a polemic in dialogue between myself and the Jewish community.

"And because that dialogue was not resolved it meant the Jewish community in the UK utilized their influence to say that I was not a good person. So from that day to this I have been banned.''

Farrakhan, who has advocated racial segregation, has made efforts in recent years to tone down his anti-Semitic rhetoric and to meet with Jewish groups.

"Britain has nothing to fear from listening to a man and making their own judgement as to whether he is worthy of being listened to or discarded,'' he told the daily.

Farrakhan, who joined the Nation of Islam in the 1950s when it was led by Malcolm X, said he was denied access to a crucial audience in Britain.

"What do I hope to accomplish on coming? To see those who follow me, to give the blacks, the whites, the Muslims a chance to hear me and judge me for themselves.''

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