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Bowman defends mural in his congressional district lionizing Louis Farrakhan

The New York City representative first sought to distance himself from the controversial leader, then did an about-face and supported him “as part of black history.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks on May 10, 2023 at SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York. Credit: Paul Froggatt/Shutterstock.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks on May 10, 2023 at SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York. Credit: Paul Froggatt/Shutterstock.

An interview from last year by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), recently rediscovered and spotlighted by The New York Daily News has inspired angry reactions from Jewish advocates.

Bowman defended a Black Lives Matter mural in the Greenburgh neighborhood that featured Louis Farrakhan, the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam known for his decades of promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories to his followers.

Bowman initially sought to distance himself from Farrakhan’s bigotry, saying “regarding the minister, you know, he said many things that I fully disagree with, you know, period.”

Then the member of the progressive “Squad” in the U.S. House of Representatives defended Farrakhan’s inclusion, stating “he is a part of black history, you know? That’s a fact.”

Bowman said, “If the Greenburgh community​—particularly that section of Greenburgh​, you know—supports the mural, then the mural​ should be there as is.​”

Jewish activists pushed back on the defense of celebrating Farrakhan and his organization, described by the Anti-Defamation League as having “maintained a consistent record of antisemitism and bigotry since its founding in the 1930s.”

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, said Bowman’s “failure to acknowledge the trauma caused by Farrakhan, and unwillingness to act on this mural, shows indifference to the harm and an appalling lack of fitness to lead, especially when it comes to minority rights.”

Lizzy Savetsky, a Jewish social-media influencer, called Bowman’s statement “a blatant endorsement of hate and antisemitism.”

She added that “such actions should not only be condemned but also met with the sternest opposition to prevent any semblance of acceptance for hate-filled bigots.”

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