December 31, 2006 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: 8,500 fans attend James Brown rites

The Spokesman-Review

More than 8,500 James Brown fans filled an arena bearing his name Saturday in a final, joyful farewell to the singer that seemed as fitting for a civil rights leader as for the godfather of soul.

Mourner Maynard Eaton returned to Brown’s hometown to pay tribute to the musician that he also considered a political figure.

” ‘I’m black and I’m proud’ was the most influential black slogan of the 1960s,” he said, referring to the chorus of the Brown standard “Say It Loud.”

Brown’s body lay in front of the bandstand in a black jacket and gloves, red shirt and sequined shoes. Fans lined up in the rain before dawn to get in. When James Brown Arena was full, they gathered on the streets outside to listen to the service over a public address system.

The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and a tearful Michael Jackson were among those who took turns at the podium overlooking the casket.

Brown died of heart failure Dec. 25 in Atlanta while hospitalized for treatment of pneumonia. He was 73.

Katy, Texas

Mosque neighbor plans pig races

A man unhappy with an Islamic association’s plans to build a mosque next to his property has staged pig races as a protest during afternoon prayers.

Craig Baker, 46, sold merchandise and grilled sausages Friday for about 100 people who showed up in heavy rain. He insisted he wasn’t trying to offend anyone with the pigs, which are forbidden from the Muslim diet.

“I am just defending my rights and my property,” Baker said. “They totally disrespected me and my family.”

Muslims don’t hate pigs, they just don’t eat them, said engineer Kamel Fotouh, president of the 500-member Katy Islamic Association in this Houston suburb.

“I don’t care if he races, roasts or slaughters pigs,” said Yousef Allam, a spokesman for the group.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email