Transcript: Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Peace Mission Report
National Press Club Washington, D.C. July 22, 2002
The following is an edited transcript of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s report on his recent Peace Mission to Africa and the Middle East, delivered July 22, 2002 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
(CHICAGO – NOI.org) – In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. We give Him praise and thanks for His Guidance and His Blessings to the human family. The greatest of His Mercies and Blessings comes through His raising of prophets and messengers and sending to us Divine Revelation through scripture. So we thank Allah (God) for Moses and the Torah. We thank Him for Jesus and the Gospel. We thank Him for Muhammad and the Qur’an. Peace be upon these worthy servants of Almighty God.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. We give Him praise and thanks for His mercy and His goodness to the human family. That goodness is reflected in the guidance that He brings to the human family through the mouths of His prophets and messengers. This is why as Muslims, We thank Allah for Moses and the Torah. And we thank Him for Jesus and the Gospel. We thank Him for Muhammad and the Qur’an. Peace be upon these worthy servants of the Almighty God.
As a student of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I could never thank Allah enough for His intervention in our affairs in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, to Whom praise is due forever, for His raising among us one to lead, teach, and guide us into the process that would make us once again the righteous Muslims that our fathers once were. We thank Allah for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and in their names, I greet all of you with the greeting words of peace, As-Salaam Alaikum.
First, let me say how thankful we are that Almighty God brought us back to the United States. Our thanks to the National Press Club for allowing us the privilege of speaking to you from this platform, and our thanks to the members of the press who are present, and thanks to all of you who prayed for the success of our peace mission and for our safe return, for we traveled safely on the wings of your prayers and we are indebted to each of you for that.
This morning, I spoke with (former) Ambassador Burns, assistant to the Secretary of State Colin Powell, by telephone and gave him a brief report of our Peace Mission. We will follow-up with a detailed report in writing to Secretary of State Colin Powell and his assistant, Ambassador Burns.
As you know, our peace initiative was twofold. First, we wanted to see if we could stop the carnage among the Israelis and Palestinian that we felt if it continued unabated would possibly widen the conflict, destabilize the region, and this would not be good for United States’ interests nor the interest of Europe and the world.
From time to time, I have met with most of the Palestinian leaders, including President Arafat. I believed that if I were able to go into Israel and the West Bank that I could have gotten an agreement from the Palestinians to accept a moratorium of 90-120 days on the suicide bombings, for there can really not be a peace initiative in the face of an ever increasing cycle of violence. At the same time, if we had gotten such an agreement, which I believe we could have, then I would have asked Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon on the basis of that agreement, if he would pull his troops and tanks out of the West Bank. And since the state of Israel was mandated by the United Nations, the United Nations cannot abandon its responsibility to gain peace in that area. We suggested that in that condition of non-violence that the United Nations should sponsor, under its auspices, a discussion where all the parties who have offered their peace initiatives could sit down and try to work out a basis for a Palestinian state, the cessation of conflict, and the Israelis having secure borders.
Unfortunately, we were not permitted to enter Israel. The Palestinians have no control of those borders and the Israelis said that they would follow the position of the United Kingdom. As you know, the United Kingdom has banned Louis Farrakhan from going there for the last, now, 17 years. And now that we won in a lower court, it was appealed to a higher court and the lower court ruling was reversed. Then it was appealed to the House of Lords; and just recently, the House of Lords said, no, Farrakhan will not be able to enter the United Kingdom. The Israeli government felt that my presence would not be good for the stability and peace of the area so they refused our entrance.
President Bush’s peace initiative took place while I was in Qatar. I happened to be in the studios of Al-Jazeera watching him and I was to speak on the news that night at 11:00 o’clock. After his peace initiative, I was greatly disappointed because his peace initiative was based on the condition of a change in Palestinian leadership and certain reforms as a condition for America to use its great influence to carve out a legitimate state for the Palestinians. These conditions angered the Palestinians and made them even more solid in their support of President Arafat as their leader. The threat of no American support unless there were a change in leadership made the Palestinians feel that America wanted democracy but they wanted it by coercion, not respecting the intelligence or the will of the Palestinian people. So the situation there is not better. Unfortunately, the cycle of violence continues. And I am afraid, my dear brothers and sisters and listeners, that if America fails to use her tremendous leverage in a positive way to bring about peace, then the conflict will widen and American interests will be severely damaged.
The second part of the initiative, which I feel was very successful, was to speak to the Muslim world and the Muslim leaders to ask them to speak with one voice to get [President Bush] to cease his plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein and a bombing campaign on Iraq, similar to that which was unleashed on Afghanistan, only America had planned that it would be even greater, according to what we have read. It appeared then, when I first spoke of this, that I was singing a solo. Now a chorus has come up from the world.
I spoke to many Arab leaders, both political and spiritual, and I can tell you that there is no Arab country that does not desire better relations and friendship with the United States of America. Even Iraq wants friendship with America but on conditions that are fair and just. Whether the leaders in that area agree with Saddam Hussein or not, none of them with whom we spoke wanted to see bombs fall on Iraq and the slaughter of innocent civilians just to get rid of a man that America says is some threat to the world. They thought that if such an attack took place, it would increase hatred for the American administration. And any Arab leader that would give approval to the United States to attack Iraq would cause a popular uprising and it would cause America to lose her moderate friends in that area of the world.
I can tell you that I am very pleased that the Arab and Muslim world is beginning to speak with one voice on this issue. And I thank God that He gave us that desire to speak out regardless of the consequences. My appeal to the United States government is that it is very unwise to pursue this policy. America is too great and powerful a nation as the only remaining superpower to do that which would destroy her credibility as any type of moral authority. The loss to America in terms of political capital would be very great. America would then appear to the world, even to her friends, as a bully, using manufactured evidence, supposition, assumptions or a set of maybes as a basis for murder and war. This is why we said that before one bomb is dropped on Iraq, and before one American soldier’s life is lost, there must be congressional hearings, that the matter should be debated publicly so that the American people, rather than a strong lobby, could determine what the direction of this nation should be. Such aggression in the name of a preemptive strike against anyone that the United States presumes or assumes is developing weapons of mass destruction would not only be unwise and improper, but it would place the United States opposite God, Himself.
In the Holy Qur’an, which is the book of scripture of the Muslims, but also you will find it in the Bible, God demands of the righteous not to be the aggressor, either in word or deed. The Qur’an teaches that Allah (God) loves not the aggressor. If America would assume an aggressive posture, under the name of a preemptive strike without ever proving to the American people that it is worthy of America, then God would take a position. And that position would be against the aggressor. And then inside the armed forces of America, you have over 400,000 Black soldiers—men and women, some of whom are Muslim—and they would be forced then to choose under such a policy whether they should obey God or obey the commands of their commander in chief. This would not be good for the morale of the armed forces to have that kind of conflict within its ranks.
Our travels took us to Durban, South Africa, where we witnessed the birth of the African Union. It is regrettable that such a significant event in the affairs of Africa, and Africans wherever they are in the Diaspora, got so little attention in the American media, so that there was only a handful of Africans in the Diaspora attending such a significant, historical event. This must not be, because the idea of an African Union or the United States of Africa did not start on the African continent with Kwame Nkrumah and Gamel Abdul Nasser. That idea started in the Diaspora with Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, C.L.R. James. Then it was taken by Kwame Nkrumah and Gamel Abdul Nassar and others on the African continent. Now Muammar Gadhafi, seeing the validity of it, knowing that Africa as 53 independent states would not be able to compete in a time of globalization, has embraced the idea. Africa would be left out totally unless Africa found a way to unite the best of itself to compete. So the European Union became somewhat of the model for the African Union.
Our trip also took us to Zimbabwe where the historical injustice of the land question has to be resolved, hopefully amicably. The way the media in America and Great Britain and Europe have written and shown President Mugabe, they showed him as an undemocratic, wicked man who is now taking land from the White owners. I think if we really want peace, we have to structure peace on the basis of justice. And we cannot have justice except on the basis of truth. And the truth must not be hidden to vilify one or the other. Truth must be told. The land was taken from its original owners by force.
Under Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, men, women and children fought a war of liberation. They didn’t fight a war of liberation just to have a flag and a national anthem and a seat in the United Nations. They fought to liberate the land so that the resources of that land would accrue to its natural and original owners. Unfortunately, just as they were about to capture the whole country, negotiations began with Great Britain. And for three months at Lancaster House in the United Kingdom, they argued over the land question: What to do with the land settled on by Whites that originally belonged to Blacks?
The British wanted Zimbabweans to buy the land back from somebody who never used a dollar to get it. That was an insult. So they founded a constitution and the land question in that constitution was, that the land would be bought back but the people of Zimbabwe had no money to pay for the land. So under the administration of Margaret Thatcher and Jimmy Carter, there was an agreement, not written but verbal, that they would help to buy the land back from the British settlers. Well, that went along pretty good for a while. Then Margaret Thatcher had no more to give. President Carter was only in office for four years then Ronald Reagan for eight. And all during that time money was given to buy back land and it was proceeding, but slowly.
So the Zimbabweans changed an aspect of the constitution, which at first said that if the White settlers wanted to sell the land, the land could be bought. But if they refused to sell, you could not force them to sell. But after 10 years of that, the constitution (was changed to say) the land would be bought in the national interest. Now after 20 years, Robert Mugabe, when he was fighting for the land, we saw old newspaper articles that depicted him as a terrorist. And all the man was doing was fighting to liberate his land. He allowed Ian Smith, who was brutal in his suppression of Black people after independence, to still live there on a large tract of land. He still lives there. And as long as the Whites’ ownership of land was undisturbed, Mugabe was a gentleman. From a terrorist, he became a gentleman.
But after 20 years, some of the soldiers that fought with him felt betrayed and that’s when they settled on the land to say that the revolution is not complete until the land is back in the ownership of the original owners. Now, Mugabe had two things to do. He could either fight them and throw them off the land or recognize the rightness of them and the slowness of justice coming. When Mugabe took the latter position that the soldiers were right, the revolution was not completed, 4,500 Whites owned 12 million hectares of land and a hectare is 2.7 acres. When you have 4,500 Whites owning 12 million hectares of arable land and millions of Blacks living huddled together with no real economic substance, that is an injustice that must be rectified.
Great Britain has no desire to give anymore money. Under the administration of the elder Bush, they gave money for awhile and then they watched the way Zimbabwe was voting (in the United Nations). Since Zimbabwe seemed to be voting more on the side of the Soviet Union than the United States, President Bush, the elder, decided to give no more money to settle the land issue. So the land question then gets bogged down until that man who was a soldier stood on that land and said we are claiming this. This is what we fought for.
Instead of Britain and America recognizing that it was a little more than $2 billion it would take to buy back all the land, what is better—$2 billion or extended war? Nothing is going to stop Black people in Africa from wanting what belongs to them. And it is wiser for the Whites who live there well to want to share the resources. The Zimbabweans don’t want to just kick the Whites altogether out but they cannot live as they are living anymore. One man owns 40 percent of the wealth of South Africa and that same man owns 130,000 hectares in Zimbabwe, the size of Belgium, and doesn’t want to give anything back to the indigenous people. Well, what will that eventually cause?
To the Whites of Europe and America, I am pleading with you to think with wisdom. Justice is not what you are being offered. You are being offered mercy. If you reject mercy, then justice comes. And what is justice? The Prophet Obadiah said, “As thou hast done so shall it be done unto you.” That’s not what you want. You have given something to Africa so why not accept a merciful solution that allows you something but does not deprive the indigenous people of what belongs to them, what they rightfully deserve.
(In) South Africa, the wealth is not in the hands of the Blacks. We can’t live with a national anthem and a flag and no food, clothing, shelter, electricity, running water, and decent homes. There is impatience in Africans now to resolve the land question and the mindset of Europe and America is to make Mugabe an example so that Thabo Mbeki or Sam Nujoma in Namibia and others would not follow suit. They want to pounce (as in a military attack) on Mugabe. What right does a Black congressman have to vote for a democracy bill that sanctions Zimbabwe? As a Black person in Congress to represent the rights of Black people, when you hear Whites saying that Mugabe is wrong for what he is doing, why don’t you get on a plane and go on the ground and see for yourself and come back and report to those of us who sent you to Congress?
The Middle East is a hot button. We pray for the resolution of that conflict. But Africa is another hot button. If something is not done among wise White people to recognize the injustice of what you have done, and then offer back to the Africans some of what you have taken and you keep what is commensurate to your population and give to the Africans what is commensurate with theirs, then there won’t be bloodshed anymore. You will live together and there will be peace in the valley. But if this is rejected because you feel you own it, you took it, it’s yours, then I warn you in the Name of Allah (God) that a curtain of blood will rise from South Africa. I want you to hear me, please. I don’t want this but it will precipitate race war.
In Africa, the Whites are the minority. You have weapons in South Africa but you are the minority. If the Blacks lose patience because they are suffering and living under terrible conditions, if they start throwing the Whites off the land and blood begins to flow, that will affect how Blacks survive in Great Britain, how Blacks survive in Belgium, in Holland, in France, in Germany, in Italy. Because whatever happens in Africa, you will see a repercussion or as they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You will find a reaction on the African continent but the greater reaction will be where Whites are the majority and Blacks are the minority.
Then the scriptures of the Bible will be fulfilled: “In that day, every man shall go to his own and find refuge under his own vine and fig tree.” As the Whites are pushed out, when they come back to Europe and they see you, they won’t look good at even their neighbors. And that will have an effect in the United States of America with race relations. I think the time to stop all of this is now and the wise Whites and the wise Blacks should plan for peace and the acceptance of mercy rather than the harshness of justice.
All of southern Africa is suffering from AIDS. And the sad thing about that is they are in Botswana trading diamonds for medicine. We have to stop this. We are sending a team of doctors to Zimbabwe because we believe there is a cheaper way to do this. And we intend to encourage Muammar Gadhafi to open that facility (where) he was accused of making chemical and biological weapons. We want to encourage him to open that facility and let the world come and see that he is manufacturing vaccines and producing a low cost remedy for the AIDS pandemic that is killing our people wholesale in Africa.
We have taken our video cameras and taken pictures and we are sending a team back to make a documentary because the American people, Black and White and Brown and Asian, must know what is really going on. I personally believe that the American Whites, if they knew, would stand with us for a better solution than what the government is presently advocating. Getting the truth of the situation to our people is the problem, but it’s something that we have to do.
In closing, unfortunately it was reported in the Washington Times and UPI (United Press International) that I prayed for an Iraqi victory in a military conflict with the United States. I want the American people and the world to know that the only victory that those of us who were in this delegation and on this Peace Mission prayed for was the victory of peace over war, the victory of right over wrong, the victory of justice over injustice, tempered with the mercy of God. I would never go on a peace mission and pray for victory in a war that would see American soldiers lose their lives and Iraqi people get slaughtered. That was designed in this atmosphere of patriotism to make Farrakhan look like an enemy of the United States of America.
I want to make it very clear: I am a citizen of the world but this is my land. And I was most happy to get back here safe. I love this land and I see myself as one who has to take the responsibility of citizenship seriously since you say that I am a citizen. And since this is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and since I’m one of the people, then if I see my government doing something that doesn’t have the consent of the governed, but is being manipulated by those who want war so they can extract more money out of Congress to feed the war machine, then I think as a citizen, I should speak. The guarantee of freedom of speech is the beauty of American life. Not speaking freely and stupidly, but speaking freely and responsibly. In standing up against the will of our government for war and the lack of our use of her strength and leverage in the pursuit of peace, I know that in this climate of patriotism that I and we can be accused of being unpatriotic.
I want to start first with the word patriot. It comes from a Latin word “pater,” which means father. You have taught me a prayer, “Our Father … .” So I can’t be patriotic to the fathers of the nation until I’m first patriotic to our Father. Being patriotic to our Father means that His will is above the will of the president. His will is greater than the will of the president even though the president is our commander in chief. But I, being true to The Father, have a duty to the President as well as he has a duty to all of us.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that His justice will not sleep forever.”
He knew that the question of slavery and how the question was dealt with could be the undoing of this nation. He said this, but John Brown acted upon it. As a result, John Brown was evilly spoken of. But history has rewarded John Brown. Martin Luther King took an unpopular position against the war in VietNam and Jane Fonda took a similar position and even visited Hanoi and spoke with Ho Chi Minh and they both were castigated and evilly spoken of, maligned, called traitors. They lost many friends but in the end history has rewarded Dr. King. And when Jane Fonda comes in a room nobody even mentions it.
Andrew Young was the first Black man to ever hold the position of America’s Ambassador to the United Nations. But because he spoke to a representative of the Palestinians during a time of a foolish no-talk policy, he was forced to resign his post. But history is kind to him. We have taken this anti-murder, anti-war stance, not because we wish to be popular and not because we need to be unpopular, but because we desire the United States to be right. And no matter what we suffer from being called unpatriotic and even having our lives threatened, I believe, like those who took a right position in the past, history will also be kind to us.
And, lastly, it is written in the Holy Qur’an that whenever God sends a messenger He seizes that nation with distress and affliction that it might humble itself. Whenever God raises a messenger, or a warner, His pattern is that he raises the warner from among the slaves, from among the abject, the oppressed, and the poor. He sends that one to speak to the mighty and the powerful and the wise of that nation, but because of the humbleness of that person and his background and position, the arrogantly proud dismiss the warner and his warning as inconsequential. So it forces God to seize that nation with distress and affliction that it might humble itself to the wise guidance coming from one from among the slaves, the abject, the poor, and the weak of the society. This is mercy from God to a great and powerful nation.
According to yesterday’s newspaper, 49 states are under a condition of drought. Rivers are drying up leaving fish stinking on the banks in the dry, parched mud. Cattle are dying by the thousands under snow and intense heat. Wind, rain, snow, hail, storms, floods and soon earthquakes, these are mercies coming to the greatest nation on earth to make you humble yourself and say, “Wait a minute, maybe we should examine our policies. Maybe we should be a better nation, a more just nation.”
The crisis of confidence that has caused the stock market to plunge—Enron and the Worldcom scandal—has not been created by Saddam Hussein or any foreign power. These are calamities coming from within based on greed and corruption, causing thousands of Americans to lose their life savings while corporate executives are making millions at the expense of the poor and weak investors.
The crisis of confidence has caused the investors to lose well over a trillion dollars. This crisis of confidence is now causing foreign investors to back away from the stock market. And as there were trillion of dollars in surplus—which Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were arguing about how to spend—now all of that is gone and now there is a deficit. What is happening to America? Open your eyes American people and stop dancing and playing and partying and drinking and smoking dope while your country is going to hell. Wake up and take your responsibility.
The government cannot make Saddam Hussein or anybody else a boogey man and focus America’s attention on Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. That’s not going to solve the internal problems in America. There are 15 million Americans that are homeless.
Saddam Hussein didn’t do that. There are 42 million Americans that have no life insurance. Saddam Hussein didn’t do that. Millions of Americans are incarcerated and they have very little education and 30 percent of those graduating from high school are functional illiterates. Saddam Hussein didn’t do that. There are mob attacks and police brutality on Black people, racial profiling, that our president has not spoken against. Saddam didn’t call us no n—-r. Saddam didn’t beat us down in the street. Our fight is not in Iraq. Our fight is in the streets of America for justice.
There is a drug epidemic now that even snared members of the President’s family.
Saddam hasn’t sent any drugs to America. Who is bringing in the drugs? Who is selling guns to the gangbangers? It’s not Saddam Hussein. No. These are internal problems that the American administration must deal with (not) making Saddam the enemy and inflaming the passion of the American people and the soldiers, whose patriotism is unquestioned, whose love of this country is unquestioned, but it should not be manipulated. So America is seized with distress and affliction and our prayer is that she will humble herself to listen to voices that speak to her that desire to see America fulfill her potential—not fulfill a destiny of former sister nations: Rome, Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah and Ancient Egypt that refused to heed guidance from a warner from God in their midst.
Thank you for listening.
We’ll take a few questions now and I’ll do my best and try and answer them.
Mr. George Curry, I know that Brother.
George Curry: (NNPA): Tell us the extent that you made efforts to try to go into Israel.
MLF: Thank you. We first sent the message to the Israeli Embassy, letting them know that we were taking a Muslim, Christian, journalist delegation. And we let them know our intentions to speak to Yasser Arafat and to Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon, that as Muslims and Christians and representing the seed of Abraham, we wanted to visit the Church of the Nativity, the Wailing Wall, and the third holiest shrine in Islam, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. We also said we wanted to go down into Dimona to visit the Hebrew-Israelite community that lives there; they’re originally from the United States. We sent that word through our Chief of Protocol and we received a word that we would be getting an answer.
While we were traveling, we got an answer that our message was relayed to the foreign ministry and the foreign ministry took it up with the Knesset and the Knesset voted against our coming to Israel. We did not think it wise to create an incident because we have an American passport to go to the border and insist (on entering Israel). The Bible says, if you go some place and they don’t want you, just shake the dust off your feet and keep going. I did not go there to incite anything, but to try to stop what I see is the carnage between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Any human being that sees that kind of suffering would like to see it stopped and the conflict ended with justice. Well, unfortunately that didn’t happen. Thank you, Brother.
Al Millikan (Washington Independent Writers): Since you were proposing a 3 or 4 month moratorium on murderous suicide bombings in Israel or Palestine, are you considering murderous suicide bombing terrorist acts a legitimate form of warfare, a legitimate strategy or tactic to base future negotiations on? And would history be kind to you and others who want to legitimize this kind of terror?
MLF: Well, first, you made an assumption already that I would legitimize that kind of activity. Let me be very clear. The Palestinians are living under terror. That is not mentioned, but this is state-sponsored terror. When you have F-15s, F-16s, helicopter gunships, tanks and rockets, made in America, being unleashed on a people, those people are terrorized as well. I believe that if the Palestinians were allowed what every nation is allowed, to defend the integrity of its land mass, the Palestinians would be in the streets fighting a conventional war for their liberation. But they don’t have anything with which to fight. In their despair and hopelessness, they strap bombs on themselves to go into Israel or wherever they can find Israelis to punish them for what they’re suffering.
Now, what I condemn, sir, is the despair and the hopelessness and the horrible conditions under which the Palestinians are living that give rise to a suicide bomb. I respectfully suggest to you that when people reach that level of despair, they do what they feel they must do. I never thought I would see a human being eat another human being, but we’ve seen that that has happened; not because they wanted to, but situations force them to do what under normal circumstances they would never do. There is nothing that the Pope can say, or I can say, or the Sheikh of Al-Ahzar can say to stop these young people from using their bodies as the only weapon that they have. I think that when you see men, women, and children doing that, that ought to send a message that there’s so much despair here that we have to do something to stop it. And the best way to stop it is to give those people some hope that justice will come to them and a Palestinian state will finally come to them. I believe that hope will end suicide bombings.
Mark Perez (Next Step Magazine): Please give us a brief update on how youth are responding to the challenge. There is a three-month initiative to bring a summit for deaf speaking people of African Americans working with Africans traveling to West Africa and South Africa on the issue of AIDS. They would like to have an international signing summit in the Motherland.
MLF: I spoke to members of the hip hop culture, which is deplored by some. But these young men and women are messengers. They can be messengers of filth and degeneracy or they can be messengers of good. All the armies in the world are populated by young people and it is the youth of the world who are being used by elders who are supposed to protect them, but are using them to fight wars that ofttimes are not based on the principle of justice. Young people are not politically sophisticated, but through rap, they could be made sophisticated. Once you take the young people away from the warmongers and tell the warmongers “you go fight it,” then see how many of the warmongers are quick to run over there with their children. But they love to send ours over there. So the youth going to Africa to join in a fight against AIDS is fitting and proper and you will find that all of the efforts by African Americans to unite Blacks in the Diaspora with the Motherland have always been opposed by our government.
So, I wish them well and I want you to know also that there are some Jews in Israel that wanted me to come. There are Rabbis that have pleaded with me to go. And I believe that I could have talked to Jews because if you are going to speak the language of the Torah, then let’s talk because I study the Torah, too. If you are a Christian and you want to speak the language of the Gospel, then let’s talk, because I study the Gospel, too. And if you are Muslim and you want to speak, then let’s speak the language of the Qur’an. I’ve been taught well the languages of all those revelations. I think that as a spiritual man, the rabbinical Jews would be more apt to listen to spiritually-minded Christians and Muslims. It’s the politics that have gotten in the way. I do want you to know that there are many in Israel that would have loved to welcome me and asked me to come. And I have some Jewish rabbis that when they see me they kiss me, because they seem to believe they know who I am.
Malik Azecz (Washington Informer): How many nations did you visit on your Middle East and Africa Peace Initiative Tour? Who were some of the leaders you met with? And what was your mission overall?
MLF: I think I mentioned the second part in my opening statement, which might have been a little long, but that’s traditional. I think we visited nine or 10 countries. We visited Qatar and spoke with Emir al-Thani and all the religious leaders. We visited Yemen and spoke with President Saleh and we spoke with the religious leaders in Yemen. We visited Dubai and we spoke with Ministers but they were part of the royal family of that area. We visited Syria and spoke with the President of Syria and then with the leader of all the Muslims in Syria (Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro). And we were invited to speak at the Jum’ah prayer service and it was widely publicized. We were very, very well received as a Head of State. And through the good office of the President of Syria (Bashar Asad), we went straight away to the Presidential Palace in Lebanon where we met with President (Emile) Lahoud and also spiritual leaders.
Then we went to South Africa where we met with many, many African heads of state and shook hands with Kofi Annan and the Secretary-General of the OAU and the incoming Secretary-General of the African Union, (South African President) Thabo Mbeki, (Nigerian) President Obasanjo. So many Presidents.
Brother Farrakhan was treated like I was a President. I met in Iraq with practically all the members of the government of Iraq up to and including the Vice President. At the time the foreign minister was in Vienna with Kofi Annan dealing with bringing back (UN weapons) inspectors and the cessation of sanctions, so we met with members of the foreign ministry in Iraq but we didn’t stay long enough to meet with the foreign minister. But everywhere we went, we met with the highest level of leadership.
We ended up, of course, in Zimbabwe (where) we met with President Mugabe and ministers of his government. And in Egypt, we met with the two most powerful religious leaders in the country—the Grand Imam Sheikh Mohamed Tantaawi of Azhar University, which is the oldest university in the world and he is the most respected of the religious leaders in that country; and second, we met with the Grand Mufti of Egypt. And all of them, all of them, supported our thoughts and ideas on bringing about peace in that area. And all of them wanted no war on Iraq, regardless of how they personally felt about Saddam Hussein.
What I would like to see, since it came out that Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi, their lands might be used in an attack. I read in today’s paper that the Prime Minister of Turkey has said that he’s a friend of America, but he does not want America to attack Iraq. The Foreign Minister of Jordan said there are no American troops in Jordan and you can come and investigate, there will be no American troops in Jordan attacking Iraq. … Kuwait said only under the United Nations will they allow it. And this is very personal, this has nothing to do with the United Nations. This is an American and British thing so I don’t think they can get any help from Kuwait. We didn’t get anything from Saudi, so I would like to ask in this press conference that the Saudi foreign minister or the Crown Prince or the King himself to speak to us and let us know, from his mouth, that the American soldiers and the base that is there in Saudi will not be used against a brother Muslim nation, regardless of what they may think of its leader.
Alexandria Shimo (ABC News): You mentioned that there was a role for wise Whites to help alleviate the poverty in Zimbabwe. I was wondering if you can give us the specifics on their role in the U.S. and in Zimbabwe?
MLF: I know that among us there are people of good will and wisdom. The wise Whites and the wise Blacks who do not want to see whatever is there destroyed by war, if they sat down and reasoned together, they could come up with a solution that both sides would feel, well, the Blacks may not get all the land back, but they would get enough that it would satisfy them that what they fought for they finally received it. The Whites would not lose all. They would give up some. Now, sometimes that’s hard. But I respectfully say that when there’s manslaughter sometimes there’s a blood debt that has to be paid. You have to give up something as an act of atonement. I think the spirit of atonement is what will bring reconciliation. We can’t afford to live in a world like this with the hatred growing on all sides. How do you dissipate hatred and turn it into something positive? When we had the Million Man March, we proposed eight steps of atonement. And the first step is the most difficult of all. It is to make a person know their sins. All of us can’t take that. And some of us don’t have the strength to tell our mate or our friends where they have hurt us. We just go away with a bad feeling. But if we said to the Whites of Zimbabwe, this is the wrong. But when you put wrong on the scale the way God does it, He puts the good on the scale with the evil. And He always gives more weight to what is good than what is evil. It’s a wonderful balance that could be achieved by sane and sensible people who want to avert the slaughter that comes when people fail to reason on the basis of what is truth and what is just and what is right. I believe those persons exist but they’re not in positions of power.
This is supposed to be a Christian country. If Christ-consciousness were in the Congress, this would be a moot point because Christ-consciousness would make—no matter who possesses it, White or Black or Asian—you act in the consciousness of Christ. It’s bad to talk about somebody that you adore but you don’t want to accept him into your life to be a disciple and discipline your life according to the teachings of a great master. This is what’s wrong with America. We’re filled with the right words, but we are so hypocritical when our actions are opposed against what we say.
There are good people that can make that happen, but you know what is wrong with this Nation? May I say it very openly and frankly? Corporate greed and the ability to spend over a billion dollars a year to get legislation enacted that favors corporations rather than the people, that’s dangerous to democracy. Then unbridled influence of effective lobbies. A IPAC is an effective lobby. The [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] is probably one of the most formidable lobbies. There is nothing wrong with being a lobby and lobbying for your point because your point favors you. But here is a small minority in the population with an enormous amount of influence. And if that influence causes the government to move in the direction of that influence and there’s no counter balance, then America will be seen following Israeli interests to the detriment of what is in the best interest of the United States of America.
Now, I say that and I don’t want you to call me anti-Semitic because I’ve never been that and I’m not that now and I hate that. But I am anti-injustice. So, how do you counterweight that. That’s our fault if we don’t have a counter-weight. We are 40 million people and we have 25-30 million Hispanics; we have Asians and Native Americans. We have interests in this, and if they don’t represent our interests then we ought to unite to represent our own interests.
For AIPAC to send a million dollars into Alabama to cause us to lose a Black congressman who is sent there to represent our interests, not Israeli interests—Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) is sent there to represent our interests—we can’t allow that kind of influence to take away strong leadership from us. But if we allow it, it’s not their fault, it is ours. Until we stop the blame game and get into the game to play it and win, then it will be our fault. The Whites of this nation should lobby the United States Government along with us because your interests are not being served by the way the government is moving. You might not want to agree with me, but you check it out. The tail is wagging the dog. I don’t want the dog to cut off his tail. But put the tail where the tail belongs. I thank you. The last question to the gentleman over here.
Hirofumi Nkano (Nippon Television): Besides sending doctors to Zimbabwe and producing local remedies for AIDS, do you have any other plans to save the people in the region for the future?
MLF: The best plan, sir, would be to awaken the people to the knowledge of self so that they become self-respecting and work for their own self-interest. That awakening must take place throughout the whole of Africa. And I respectfully say to African people, we will never gain the respect of others until we do for ourselves what we see intelligent civilized people doing for themselves. The nature of the human being sometimes is not merciful, it’s not kind. If they see an advantage and you in your ignorance allow them to take advantage of you, then their base instinct will allow that human being to take advantage of you. But when you are wise to who you are, and stand up for who and what you are, and become the best of what you can be, then people will honor you and respect you. Africa has to receive that kind of knowledge. And I believe from the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that we have been given that type of knowledge. If I were free to teach Africa, well, to teach America, too, I believe that if I had freedom to really teach and there was some money to back me … and if you listen to me, you may not agree with everything I say—you didn’t agree with what your mother said all the time—but if you can agree with 50, 60, 70 percent of what I say, suppose I (could) talk to the American people, just enlightening the American people would make Bush a better President. People are taking advantage of you in your ignorance. That’s why the Bible says, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.” It has nothing to do with your color. You just don’t know how to protect your interests. Please let me help you.
Thank you very much and may Allah bless you all.