Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is now the most popular and dangerous anti-Semite in America. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are surely a problem for Jews, but polite society rejects them. Their best effort to date—a “national rally” in Charlottesville, Va.—drew a few hundred people, whereas Farrakhan’s rants excite adoring crowds many times that size. His online influence is growing.
Unlike alt-right rallies, a Farrakhan event will never be shut down by toughs throwing fists. Unlike the white anti-Semites, Farrakhan has open sympathizers in positions of power. What Louis Farrakhan says about Jews will only reach more and more people. His July 4 address to the nation was pulled by Fox TV’s Soul channel after sparking outrage among decent people, but millions will still see what he has to say on social media. Billboards advertise his talk along the highways of Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Compton, Dearborn, Detroit and Phoenix.
Though he is a clear and present danger to Jews, Jewish leaders find it difficult to press black activists to renounce Farrakhan because the black community perceives him as a black liberator. That is why it is more important than ever to understand precisely how this is untrue: Farrakhan has covered up and sought to deny the modern-day enslavement of Africans by Arabs and Muslims. He has been and continues to be an obstacle to their liberation.
In the early 1990s I, along with Mohamed Nacir Athié, a Mauritanian African Muslim refugee, launched an American movement to free black chattel slaves in North Africa. In Sudan, as part of a war waged by the Arab north against the black, mostly Christian south, Arabs stormed African villages, killed the men and captured the women and children to serve as goatherds, domestics and sex slaves. In Mauritania, Muslim Berbers, who had conquered the area centuries before, have since kept black people as slaves even when they had long ago been converted to Islam.
When Athié and I appeared on PBS’s national black-focused news show—Tony Brown’s Journal—the Nation of Islam pressured PBS to allow its spokesman, Akbar Muhammed, equal time. Akbar claimed that reports of slavery were a “big lie,” and part of a “Jewish conspiracy” against Minister Farrakhan.
As it turned out, Akbar was Farrakhan’s man in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, itself a slaving hellhole. According to Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune, Gaddafi loaned Farrakhan $5 million in 1984.
On the heels of the Tony Brown debates, there were fireworks in New York’s black press. Cornered at a news conference on March 14, 1996, Farrakhan was asked about the slaves of Sudan. The New York Times reported that an emotional Farrakhan shot back: “If slavery exists, why don’t you go, as a member of the press?! And you look inside of the Sudan, and if you find it, then you come back and tell the American people what you found!”
The Baltimore Sun took up the challenge and dispatched reporters to Sudan where they bought the freedom of two young African slave boys from an Arab slave retriever. Their report ran as a front-page series in the Sun and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Leaders of the South Sudanese peoples’ struggle for liberation then asked Farrakhan for his help. He promised he would help them but betrayed them instead.
Today, there could still be as many as 35,000 Africans in bondage to Arab masters in Sudan. Mauritanian blacks continue to serve as slaves to Arab and Berber masters in Mauritania. The black Muslim soldiers of Boko Haram in Nigeria enslave black Christians. CNN has video of Libyans holding black slave auctions, and in Algeria, Africans seeking a passageway to Europe are being caught and enslaved.
Farrakhan continues to stay quiet about black slavery in Muslim North Africa while blaming the troubles of black people worldwide on the Jews.
Charles Jacobs is the president of the American Anti-Slavery Group.