The controversial leader of the Nation of Islam will be visiting Huntsville soon, much to the dismay of local Jewish groups.
Officials at Alabama A&M University told WHNT News 19 that Louis Farrakhan has accepted an invitation to speak on campus next month, just days after his latest controversial remark.
Farrakhan is scheduled to address students at Elmore Gymnasium on April 10th. A coalition of student groups asked the long time Nation of Islam head to come earlier this month, saying Farrakhan brings a message of "hope and positive energy." But Jewish groups in north Alabama scoffed at that assessment, calling it outrageous and insulting. The 78 year-old leader has a long history of anti-Semitic statements, along with other disparaging racial remarks.
"All I can say is shame on A&M for allowing him [Farrakhan] to come," said Etz Chayim synagogue member Max Rosenthal. "We [Jews] are related to Satan according to Mr. Farrakhan...Mr. Farrakhan is a rabid hate-monger, a rabid anti-Semite, and I think all he's going to do is try to poison the minds of the A&M students. It's a real disaster to the community, and I believe it's going to be very divisive."
The Alabama A&M Poetry Club and Alabama A&M Democrats were two of the student groups that invited Mr. Farrakhan to campus. Poetry club president Kris Taylor says A&M administrators gave the go-ahead for Farrakhan to come, and called criticism of his past remarks overblown.
"There's going to be positive energy coming from this," said Taylor. "I don't believe he's going to come here and bash the Jews...There should be no division when you're trying to uplift and bring positive energy to something."
Farrakhan stirred controversy last month by saying Jews had complete control of the U.S. government and media in what he called "an agreement with hell and covenant and death." He has also previously referred to Jewish groups as a "synagogue of Satan," and called white people "potential humans who have not fully evolved." The Anti-Defamation League also reports that Farrakhan has accused white Republicans of praying for President Obama's death.
The Jewish Federation of Huntsville-North Alabama said they plan to meet with Alabama A&M officials in the coming days, and will ask them to reconsider Mr. Farrakhan's invitation. University administrators were not available for comment Monday.
Last week Farrakhan made headlines by tweeting on the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, saying "very soon the law of retaliation may be applied." Police previously said Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain who was acting in self-defense, but some of the victim's family members dispute that version of events.