Banned Farrakhan reaches UK audience via satellite

The Guardian/December 23, 2002
By Vikram Dodd

The controversial American black leader Louis Farrakhan yesterday tried to undermine the government's ban on him entering Britain by speaking live by satellite to a 1,700-strong audience in London. Mr Farrakhan, banned for 17 years by successive home secretaries, used his first live address to Britain to lambast his exclusion. The Nation of Islam leader said Britain's colonial history was satanic, and that the government had banned him because it feared his presence would set black people free from white oppression.

The audience, overwhelmingly black and young, watched the transmission beamed from a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona, on a giant screen at the Apollo Theatre in Hammersmith. Unfortunately for Mr Farrakhan, who forbids his followers from drinking, the theatre is sponsored by the Carling lager.

As he appeared on the screen the audience gave him a standing ovation. Mr Farrakhan, at times quoting from the Koran and Bible, compared himself to a messenger carrying particular truths, feared by Britain, "that will free the black man and free white people from the sick mentality of white supremacy".

As a leading colonial power and slave trader, Britain had had a pervasive influence on black society as lingering as the smell of a skunk: "They are here in the way we think, they are here in the way we act, so we need a complete washing. You have to wash from having an intercourse with Satan."

Mr Farrakhan is accused of being anti-semitic and is banned from Britain because ministers fear his presence would lead to disorder.

In May the court of appeal reinstated the ban on Mr Farrakhan entering the UK which a lower court had overturned.

Yesterday he countered that the Nation of Islam, which has several thousand UK followers, was peaceful.

"You can't show one person that those who follow me have harmed," he said. "We have not plucked a nail or one strand of hair from one white person, a Jewish person, or from our own brothers."

Mr Farrakhan, 69, said yesterday's live transmission gave Britons the chance to make up their own minds. Some of those in his audience yesterday, who paid up to £25 for the privilege, said they wanted to hear the man alleged by some to be a preacher of hate for themselves.

Christine Muhammad, 32, a bank cashier from London said: "It was inspiring to hear him live, and enlightening."

Chris Obi, 34, an actor from London, said: "The idea that he is banned in an age of free expression and free speech is wrong. There's a white fear of black empowerment."

Mr Farrakhan said there were strong similarities between the American and British black experience: "The British system, like the American system, is designed to create in us a subject mentality."

Supporters of Mr Farrakhan said they hoped yesterday's event would show that his message preached black empowerment, not hate, and that its effect on supporters was to inspire them to help themselves, not provoke disorder.

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