Farrakhan Speech May Be His Last Major Address

Washington Post/February 22, 2007
By Zachary A. Goldfarb

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is slated to give what might be his final major address this weekend in the birthplace of the controversial religious organization.

Farrakhan, 73, is to speak Sunday in Detroit at the end of a Nation of Islam convention. The religious group, which has deviated from mainstream Islam on several key points, has advocated black separatism.

Farrakhan helped build it into a notable force in black politics and society, often taking controversial positions that drew heavy criticism from across the political spectrum. Lately, however, he has taken a more moderate approach.

The speech is titled "One Nation Under God: The Confusion, the Guidance, the Warning."

Recently, a statement from the Nation of Islam said that Farrakhan "doesn't see himself coming before the public on such a major stage as we are preparing in Detroit." He doesn't plan "to deliver a major message from a major venue, to the masses of our people" after Sunday's speech.

Farrakhan left a hospital last month after undergoing treatment for abdominal problems related to prostate cancer.

During his tenure, Farrakhan had disparaged Judaism and implied that the U.S. government sought to enslave African Americans with crack cocaine. He also had cordial relations with a number of controversial foreign leaders, including Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Cuba's Fidel Castro and Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

In recent years, Farrakhan struck a softer tone. To those who prayed for him during his illness, he recently said: "Each of you can go back to your mosques, your churches, your cathedrals, your synagogues, your temples, your cloisters -- wherever it is you worship God -- and say to your congregation that our God, by whatever name you call it, answers prayer."

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