Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, Friday night described Moammar Gadhafi as a “brother,” a misunderstood champion of human rights and a close friend to African Americans who is yearning to put “the wealth of Libya” behind their betterment.
But Farrakhan said his organization could not accept the Libyan leader’s offer of a $1 billion donation - or a human rights prize worth $250,000 - in light of a recent Treasury Department ruling that bars him from taking money from a country regarded by the United States as a sponsor of terrorism.
In a speech accepting the humanitarian award, but not the prize money, Farrakhan criticized the U.S. ruling as grossly unjust and vowed to fight the decision in “the mother of all court battles.
“It is the right of Libya to offer humanitarian aid to me in the redemptive work that I am doing inside America, and the government of the United States has no right to tell Libya or this committee that they should not give charity because America sees Libya as a terrorist nation,” Farrakhan said.
“I commend Moammar Gadhafi as one who gives to the struggle of oppressed people, and regardless of what the West thinks of Moammar Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi is my friend, and he is my brother, and I shall never…deny him to please anyone who has made him a pariah on the Earth.”
The controversial leader spoke at a ceremony awarding him the Gadhafi International Human Rights Prize for his work in organizing the Million Man March in Washington last October.
Farrakhan’s close ties to Gadhafi have caused consternation at the U.S. State Department and in Congress, where he has been accused of giving aid and comfort to some of America’s most implacable enemies.
Farrakhan did little to ease that impression Friday night, criticizing American foreign policy not only toward Libya but also toward Iraq, Iran and Cuba.
Farrakhan’s visit coincides with weekend celebrations of the country’s national day, which commemorates the military coup that brought Gadhafi to power in 1969.