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Farrakhan: Unified black community can end the violence, whites should accept responsibility

Minister Louis Farrakhan leader NatiIslam speaks Friday night St. SabinChurch Chicago.  |  Maudlyne Ihejirika~Sun-Times

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, speaks Friday night at St. Sabina Church in Chicago. | Maudlyne Ihejirika~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 4, 2013 6:53AM

A splintered black community will not see an end to the violence afflicting inner cities. White people must accept responsibility for their role in destroying the black community.

And America needs to start targeting the unseen gun runners selling guns to gang bangers.

All those were among the messages controversial Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered to a packed house at St. Sabina Catholic Church on Friday.

“Our children are out there killing themselves and one another. My beloved brother lost his daughter to senseless violence,” Farrakhan said of Nathaniel Pendleton — father of 15-year-old murder victim Hadiya Pendleton — sitting in a front row. “And the two young men they have are just babies — crazy, irrational, savage with a gun in their hands.”

“Most of the weapons that are in our community are illegal weapons sold to our children by enemies who know how they are going to use them,” he said. “They put boys in jail, but what about those bringing the guns in? Those who bring them in should be decapitated.”

Only days after his annual Saviour’s Day speech drawing thousands of the Muslim group’s followers, Farrakhan closed out St. Sabina’s Black History Month Speaker’s Series before an audience of 1,000 — equally mixed with members of that congregation and the Nation.

In a 90-minute speech, lines between the Quran and the Bible became blurred as Farrakhan, whose group brought an anti-violence presence to the streets of the South Side last year, urged blacks — historically predominantly Christian — to ignore differences in religion.

“Only somebody who’s confused would pit one against the other. A man who knows the root knows we’re all speaking the same language,” he said of Christianity and Islam.

“Jesus himself said, ‘Of myself, I can do nothing.’ ‘I’ can’t do anything, but ‘we’ can. It’s going to take all of us to change the reality of our situation, all of us working together to solve the problems that we face. So I am both a Christian and a Muslim.”

Fiery and humorous — immaculate in charcoal gray, pin-striped suit and crisp white shirt, gold tie and kerchief — Farrakhan seemed at home among the trappings of Catholicism.

There was no mention of the Jewish religion that has brought past controversy.

And the unity theme carried over in references between the 78-year-old minister and his host, activist priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger, himself no stranger to controversy.

Pfleger described Farrakhan as “my friend, my brother, a mentor,” and “one of the most lied upon people by people who want to demonize him so that you won’t hear his message.”

Farrakhan praised Pfleger’s recent efforts to help area gang members change their lives, through a basketball league, G.E.D.’s and jobs, calling him “a true disciple of Christ.”

Farrakhan skimmed the trajectory of black history, laying accountability for many ills at the foot of white people, with comments that have led some whites to label him racist.

“They say, ‘Farrakhan, you people have called white people devils.’ Now white folks have not been saints. Would Christ approve of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, racial injustice? Well if Christ wouldn’t do it, how can you as a Christian sanction that?” Farrakhan said. “White people know that they have raised hell on this planet. But guess what? They made us just like themselves. We are all messed up. But Jesus said, ‘Behold. I make all things new.’ So all of us have access to the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.

Farrakhan criticized blacks for many of the ills, particularly for non-existent or bad parenting. And he said the ignorant youth wreaking havoc with guns could learn from the Nation’s example — men who exude power, without carrying weapons. But America should target the harshest punishment to those who are the source of those guns, he maintained, “I have the right to feel that way when I see 500 of our babies dead in one year,” he said.

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