Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaks to Detroit City Council on May 17, in Detroit. Farrakhan said it’s time for his movement to join others to invest in the struggling city where it was founded more than 80 years ago. He called on residents and religious leaders to “pool their resources” to buy distressed properties and create economic opportunities. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT (AP) — A leading national Jewish civil rights group criticized Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Wednesday for making anti-Semitic statements at a Detroit church appearance and called on a Michigan congressman and other leaders in attendance to condemn the remarks.
Farrakhan denounced “Satanic Jews” and the “synagogue of Satan” that he said controls major U.S. institutions during his speech Friday night at Fellowship Chapel, the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/195ympR) reported. It reported Farrakhan also said President Barack Obama has “surrounded himself with Satan … members of the Jewish community.”
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson were among those who attended the speech.
“It is deeply disappointing that so many Detroit leaders are apparently so willing to turn a blind eye to Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism,” said Heidi Budaj, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Where are the voices in our community who are willing to stand up and say ‘no’ to racism and anti-Semitism?”
Conyers and Watson didn’t respond Wednesday to the newspaper’s request for comment. The Associated Press left phone and Facebook messages for Conyers and phone and email messages for Watson seeking comment Wednesday night.
While in Detroit, the Chicago-based Farrakhan also gave a speech Friday to the City Council, during which he urged religious leaders and majority black population to join him in an effort to buy neglected properties and take other steps to help revitalize the struggling city, now under state emergency management.
“The city abandoned, crime and violence rampant, and the governor has seen fit to take away the rights of the voting public,” Farrakhan told the council.
“We acknowledge the significant challenges that Detroit faces,” Budaj said. “Providing a platform to an individual with a long history of promoting anti-Semitism and racism is not the solution.”