U.S. REP. JOHN CONYERS
DETROIT (AP) – A Michigan congressman apologized Thursday for his participation in a Louis Farrakhan appearance at a Detroit church six days earlier during which the Nation of Islam leader made anti-Jewish remarks.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers was among a number of elected officials and civic leaders attending last Friday night’s event at Fellowship Chapel. Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson also attended as did the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People local chapter, who is also the Fellowship Chapel’s minister.
The Chicago-based Farrakhan denounced “Satanic Jews” and the “synagogue of Satan” that he said controls major U.S. institutions and said President Barack Obama has “surrounded himself with Satan … members of the Jewish community.”
“Farrakhan made unacceptable racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic statements, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Conyers said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/16RiV5w ). “It was my expectation that Minister Farrakhan’s speech would focus on the many challenges facing the City of Detroit.
“In previous days he had discussed efforts to revitalize our city by purchasing property and investing in blighted neighborhoods. Regrettably, he used this opportunity to promote views that have no place in civilized discourse.”
Conyers’s statement comes one day after the Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League criticized the Detroit Democrat and other leaders who attended Farrakhan’s address for failing to challenge his attacks on Jews.
“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, the group’s regional director. “Where are the voices in our community who are willing to stand up and say ‘no’ to racism and anti-Semitism?”
The Associated Press left a message for Watson seeking comment.
The church where Farrakhan spoke is led by the Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of the NAACP’s Detroit branch.