by Askia Muhammad
Washington Bureau Chief
SYDNEY--Despite the most
unrelenting propaganda attack against him in any of the 27 nations visited thus far on
this World Friendship Tour III, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan arrived to a hero's welcome
in Australia Feb. 14.
More than 100 cheering supporters--Muslims, Aborigines,
Blacks--waited over four hours at Sydney Airport to provide a 30-vehicle-escort to take
the Nation of Islam leader and his entourage to the Imam Ali Mosque in the mostly-Muslim
Lakemba Residential District, where another 1,000 supporters waved banners and shouted
"Allah-hu Akbar (God is Great)," when Minister Farrakhan arrived.
One airport well-wisher waved a copy of "Message to
the Blackman in America" by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, for Min. Farrakhan and for
the dozens of doubting reporters representing corporate news media outlets to see.
For several days before his arrival "down
under," news reports routinely quoted only the Muslim leader's more sensational
remarks totally out of the context in which they were spoken. He was labeled as "the
prophet of Black rage," an "anti-Semite," with a "hellish vision"
and worse, who had to be "counseled on Australia's method of free speech" by the
Australian ambassador in Seoul, South Korea in order to get permission to enter the
Though he is recognized by one influential magazine as one
of the 25 most important people in America, and by another as one of the 65 most
influential world leaders, Australian publications, broadcasters, and some Jewish leaders
ignored Min. Farrakhan's long record of accomplishments in the area of atonement and
reconciliation among troubled and sometimes violent groups in the U.S.
The leader of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission
predicted that Min. Farrakhan's presence in Australia would be "dangerous,"
because of the Muslim leader's strong words. Other critics applauded the government's
decision to set conditions on his entry.
"But at the same time this was asked of me,"
Min. Farrakhan said after praying at the Mosque, "there were no such restraints on
"So they were saying all kinds of things about me
that would engender dislike or hatred for me, even before I set foot in the country,"
the Nation of Islam leader said.
The Anti-Defamation Com-mission, the Executive Council of
Australian Jewry, and the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League all mounted furious news media
and political campaigns against Minister Farrakhan's visit, promising "to protest in
every possible way."
In addition to the dozens of supporters who met him at the
airport, at least 1,000 believers waited at the Lakemba Mosque for hours for the Muslim
leader's appearance on Saturday Feb. 14, and an overflow crowd of 5,000 supporters lined
the streets in front of the mosque on Sunday Feb. 15. In addition, hundreds of indigenous
Aborigines followed the Muslim leader through "Redfern," the slum neighborhood
known as "the Block," during an unannounced visit to that neighborhood. Only one
anti-Farrakhan protester, however, appeared at any of several public events on the
Mosque spokesman Malek Oman told The Final Call, regarding
of reports that even the Islamic community was divided about the appearance of the Nation
of Islam leader, "The Mufti was one million percent in favor of defending the
Minister for his beliefs and understanding," speaking Imam Taj Addin Al Hilali, the
Grand Mufti of Australia, whose headquarters is at the Lakemba Mosque.
"The Mufti sees (Min. Farrakhan) as the mujeddid. He
is the most understandable, the most knowledgeable person (from who Australians) can get
insight into Islam. When (the Minister) speaks to the people it is like an eagle spreading
his wings," Mr. Oman said.
During his remarks in the mosque, Min. Farrakhan thanked
Australian immigration authorities for permitting his visit, then discussed the mounting
tensions and build-up for war in the Persian Gulf. "The world is in deep
trouble," he said.
"As I speak, warships are moving towards the Gulf. I
believe that Australia has said they will send warships to the Gulf to add to Canada,
Great Britain and the U.S., " he said, referring to the decision by Prime Minister
John Howard to send personnel and refueling planes to join the troop build-up.
"I appeal to the government of Australia," Min.
Farrakhan said at the mosque, "Iraq has done nothing to Australia. Iraq does not
"My government says Iraq has weapons of mass
destruction. If she does have these weapons, what have you been doing in your weapons
inspections in the last seven years"? Min. Farrakhan continued.
"For seven years Iraqi people have been dying. This
is the only war in history that more people have died since the war was over than died
during the war. It is a war which has never ended because the West is hateful of Saddam
Hussein and wants the Iraqi people to suffer and rise and overthrow leadership that the
West does not appreciate.
"America has more weapons of mass destruction than
any nation on earth," he said, pointing out that the U.S. had also used atomic
weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagaski, Japan.
As Min. Farrakhan appealed to the Australian government
and people to reconsider the decision to support U.S. action, opposition began to swell
among Australians themselves. Even within the ruling Labor Party, Members of Parliament as
well as church leaders contacted Muslim officials to organize a joint Muslim-Christian
protest march against Australian military involvement in the Gulf.
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