Louis Farrakhan denies antisemitism – then refers to ‘Satanic Jews’

In a speech denying allegations of antisemitism, misogyny and homophobia after Facebook banned him from the social media platform, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan referred to “Satanic Jews”.

During the speech on Thursday at a Catholic church on Chicago’s South Side, Farrakhan said people shouldn’t be angry if “I stand on God’s word”. He also said that he knows “the truth” and “separate[s] the good Jews from the Satanic Jews”.

Facebook banned Farrakhan, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulos, among others, saying they violated its ban on “dangerous individuals”. The Rev Michael Pfleger subsequently invited Farrakhan to speak in Chicago.

The Nation of Islam leader, who turns 86 this weekend, said those who think he is a hater do not know him and have never spoken to him. Those who hated him but got to know him came to love him, he said. He also said Facebook’s contention that he is dangerous is true because what he says can be researched by his listeners.

“Social media, you met me tonight” he said. “I plead with the rulers, let the truth be taught.”

Chicago cardinal Blase Cupich issued a statement on Friday evening condemning Farrakhan’s comments and saying Pfleger did not consult him or other archdiocesan officials before extending the invitation.

Farrakhan’s “statements shock the conscience”, Cupich said. “Antisemitic rhetoric – discriminatory invective of any kind – has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic church. I apologize to my Jewish brothers and sisters, whose friendship I treasure, from whom I learn so much, and whose covenant with God remains eternal.”

Farrakhan said Cupich’s predecessor, Cardinal Francis George, visited him in his home and had dinner with him. He also met Chicago cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

“For those angry about me about coming to St Sabina, how many would be angry with me meeting with Cardinal George and with the previous cardinal,” he said. “That kind of hatred is insanity.”

Pfleger, one of Chicago’s most prominent activists, defended his invitation, saying he was responding to the Facebook ban as a defender of free speech.

Hours before Farrakhan was scheduled to speak, officials of the Illinois Holocaust Museum said Pfleger was “giving hatred a platform”.

Museum president and Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall said when leaders like Pfleger provide a platform for bigotry and antisemitism, “it increases the threat against all of humanity”.

Cupich encouraged Pfleger “to accept the invitation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center to meet with their leadership and dialogue with survivors”.

Pfleger has a history of clashing with Catholic church leadership.

Critics point to Farrakhan’s characterization of Judaism as a “gutter religion’ as evidence of antisemitism. Perhaps most famously, in the 1980s, he came under intense criticism for what was seen as praise for Adolf Hitler.

Widely quoted for calling Hitler a “great man”, Farrakhan said the reports were not accurate and that he had actually called the Nazi leader “wickedly great”.

His allegedly antisemitic, anti-white and anti-gay comments have prompted the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center to label him an extremist.

Facebook, which did not detail specific comments that led to the ban of Farrakhan and others, says it has always banned people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.

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