State Dept. concedes World
Friendship Tour violates no U.S. laws
by Tyrone Muhammad
WASHINGTON--A Nation of Islam delegation met with
officials from the U.S. State Department on Dec. 1, in a near two-hour briefing concerning
the World Friendship Tour of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his planned travel
According to State Department Director of Public Affairs
of the Near East Bureau, Andrew Steinfield, the policy guidelines of the U.S. government
regarding travel to nations under U.S. government sanctions, was the major concern.
"In general, the view of the United States government is that visits to states like
Libya and Iraq are not helpful," commented Mr. Steinfeld in his opening remarks. It
was eventually conceded by State Department officials that a visit to these nations by
Min. Farrakhan would give those nations a greater sense of credibility and legitimacy,
while the current policy of the United States is to sanction, isolate and discredit Libya
However, at the conclusion of the briefing, U.S.
government officials categorically admitted that Min. Farrakhan's World Friendship Tour
was well within a substantial "legal" framework. Commenting on the findings of
the Department of State, East Coast Regional Minister Benjamin F. Muhammad, who led the
delegation representing Min. Farrakhan affirmed that "in spite of the U.S. government
policy objections, clearly the Minister's tour has the blessings of Allah."
Accompanying Min. Benjamin were Mid-Atlantic Regional
Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, General Counsel Abdul Arif Muhammad, Regional Captain Deon
Muhammad and Tyrone Muhammad, Washington correspondent of The Final Call. Joining the
session via telephone conference call from the Nation of Islam's national headquarters in
Chicago were Chief of Staff Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad and Attorney Rufus Cook, a legal
counsel for the Nation of Islam.
State Department officials coordinated the briefing hours
before Min. Farrakhan departed the United States beginning his tour. The United States
government, through U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, first
referenced the briefing. On Nov. 30, in an appearance on NBC's weekly Meet the Press
television program, Mr. Richardson suggested that the head of the Nation of Islam receive
a briefing before his departure, particularly where it related to Iraq.
The next day, Min. Farrakhan directed Min. Ava Muhammad,
to respond to the intimation of the ambassador by personally appearing at the U.S. State
Department building in Washington, D.C. While in New York City, at the United Nations,
Min. Benjamin and phalanx of men from the Fruit of Islam, were met by dozens of reporters,
cameras and law enforcement personnel as he hand delivered to the UN Ambassador's Chief of
Staff Rebecca Cooper, a letter addressed to Ambassador Richardson. Ms. Cooper cordially
met the minister, thanking him for responding to Mr. Richardson's appeal and stated that
the official briefing would take place later that afternoon in Washington.
"We really have a sacred duty like any other
religious order in the world," stated Chief of Staff Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad
responding to earlier placed concerns of whether or not the Minister's visit to the
nations in question would be "helpful" to U.S. interests. He continued by citing
the tradition of Black leaders who have declared their God-inspired responsibility to
challenge the "wrongness" of U.S. governmental policy when those policies were
at variance with their understanding of God's justice and righteousness.
Much to the surprise of government officials, the briefing
ended on a solemn and sacred note with a call to prayer by Min. Benjamin, asking Allah's
protection of Min. Farrakhan as he embarked on his mission of encouraging friendship and
world peace. "Oh, Allah, we are thankful for this day you have made. We pray for a
successful and safe journey of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his World
Friendship Tour. We are thankful for the exchange of information we received today,"
"I'm glad it happened," mentioned one of the
State Department officials at the close of the meeting. "At least we have begun to
have constructive dialogue," the official concluded.