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Civil rights group condemns Farrakhan speech as ‘anti-Semitic’

Updated: April 2, 2012 9:52AM

A prominent civil rights group blasted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s annual speech to his followers as “hateful,” “hurtful” and “anti-Semitic.”

Lonnie Nasatir, the Anti-Defamation League’s Chicago/Upper Midwest director, said Wednesday that the speech Farrakhan gave Feb. 26 to thousands at the United Center aimed to divide when it should have united communities.

Nasatir described the speech as the same “vile stuff” Farrakhan has spoken year after year, but he said the religious leader’s speech took on a new focus — blaming American Jews for the escalating tension between Iran and America.

“The notion that Jews can’t be trusted and that Jews are working on behalf of Israel to the detriment of this country — that is as nefarious a charge as you can get,” Nasatir said.

Nasatir said it is troubling to see thousands of Farrakhan’s followers applaud in apparent agreement with their leader’s views.

“When someone has 15,000 people potentially hanging on every word, you worry how it plays out when they leave that auditorium,” Nasatir said.

A spokesman for the Nation of Islam could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Farrakhan was speaking Sunday during the annual Saviours’ Day convention. His speech covered a wide range of topics, including his view that President Barack Obama has suffered more criticism than any other president because of his race.

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