JACKSON, Mississippi — Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said the United States lacks the moral authority to attack the forces of embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
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The 78-year-old leader of the Chicago-based organization received cheers Friday night from a packed crowd at a civil rights conference at Jackson State University.
Farrakhan said his friend Gadhafi has played the role of a forceful parent in post-colonial Libya.
“When you come out of a colonial past where you have lost the value of your own self-interest, God raises somebody from among you that can instill in you the value of yourself again and that person dictates the path until you have grown into your own self-interest,” Farrakhan said of Gadhafi.
The minister did not address Gadhafi’s alleged role in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people in 1988.
Farrakhan gave several reasons why the U.S. lacks the moral authority to intervene in the Libyan conflict, including the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement during the Rodney King protests in Los Angeles in 1991 and the unhealthy food that the federal government allows into the marketplace.
“The American people are dying, and the Food and Drug Administration is complicit,” he said. “Greed is more important than the lives of the American people.”
Farrakhan made his remarks at the 6th annual Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Conference.
He talked about the importance of strong family units, conservative outfits for women, healthy food and land ownership. But he also espoused controversial views on some subjects, saying that interracial births pose a threat to the white population and that Jews control the mainstream civil rights movement.
Some Mississippi religious and civil rights leaders previously said it was offensive that Farrakhan was selected to speak at the conference.
Farrakhan criticized President Barack Obama for joining up with the “old colonial masters” of the Western-led forces and expressed skepticism about European countries espousing humanitarian concerns, saying they “give noble motives to their wickedness.”
“Do you think they had humanitarian concerns when the British mowed down the Indians in India who were peacefully protesting?” he said. “Where in the hell is humanitarian values in America when you’ve got over 50 million Americans living in poverty, sick and diseased, with no healthcare?”
He also alleged that Obama had backed down from pushing a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord and banning settlement-building in the West Bank, calling him “the first Jewish president.” Obama is a Christian.
“He was selected before he was elected,” Farrakhan said. “And the people that selected him were rich, powerful members of the Jewish community.”
Local Jewish leaders this week criticized Farrakhan for distorting historical fact in order to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. The Anti-Defamation League said recently that Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism is “obsessive, diabolical and unrestrained.”
Farrakhan has over the years denied claims of anti-Semitism, arguing his remarks are often taken out of context and that criticism of Jews in any light automatically earns the “anti-Semite” label. The Nation of Islam has espoused black nationalism and self-reliance since it was founded in the 1930s, though in recent years it has included other groups, including Latinos and immigrants.