Nation of Islam's Farrakhan backs Zimbabwe's land seizure program

Yahoo! News/July 13, 2002

Harare, Zimbabwe -- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan gave his full support Saturday to a program by the Zimbabwean government to seize thousands of white-owned farms, state radio reported.

The black American activist's made his views known at a private meeting with President Robert Mugabe.

Farrakhan had blamed Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain for failing to honor pledges - made prior to independence in 1980 - to sponsor land reform, and believed this had forced Mugabe to seize the farms, state radio said.

Farrakhan was also reported as saying the "demonization of President Mugabe is uncalled for, (and was) the culmination of a prolonged campaign being orchestrated by the United States and Britain."

Zimbabwe's increasingly unpopular government has targeted about 95 percent of white commercial farms for confiscation, saying it wants to redistribute them to landless blacks. The program has been condemned by Western governments and contributed to widespread food shortages.

Whites make up less than one percent of Zimbabwe's population. Until Mugabe's recent land seizures, white farmers - most of whom are the descendants of British and South African colonial era settlers - owned about one third of the nation's productive farmland.

The Nation of Islam is a Chicago-based black nationalist group that says it is guided by the Quran, but many who practice Islam do not consider it a true Muslim sect. Farrakhan's message of black empowerment has in years past included inflammatory remarks about Jews and Christians, and he has been refused entry to Britain, which fears he may fuel racial tension.

Farrakhan traveled to Zimbabwe from South Africa where he attended the launch of the African Union, a new organization that aims to lift the continent out of poverty through development and good governance.

The U.S. State Department has imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe and prominent supporters of his regime, who stand accused of rigging March presidential elections and intimidating opposition supporters.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare was not informed of Farrakhan's visit, said Bruce Wharton, an embassy spokesman.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.