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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Farrakhan in Malcolm X 'apology'
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan's radical agenda has attracted controversy
Controversy has been re-ignited over whether the death of the US civil rights campaigner Malcolm X was indirectly linked to the radical activist Louis Farrakhan.

Mr Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, appeared to concede in a television interview that he may have contributed to the 1965 assassination, which was carried out by three men with links to the group.

But in a later interview he strongly denied that his comments were intended as an admission of complicity in the murder.

Malcolm X, who backed a more moderate vision of black civil rights than the Nation of Islam's radical agenda, was shot dead in New York on February 21, 1965.

Where we are responsible, where our ends are a part of this, we beg God's mercy and forgiveness

Louis Farrakhan
Mr Farrakhan, who has been accused of anti-Semitism and racism, was deputy leader of the Nation of Islam at the time. He has always denied sanctioning the killing.

The new debate over his possible role came after he appeared on Sunday with Malcolm X's daughter, Atallah Shabazz, on the CBS television programme Sixty Minutes.

Mr Farrakhan publicly apologised to Ms Shabazz, and expressed regret that his words and writings may have "created an atmosphere" which led to the murder.


"I may have been complicit in words that I spoke leading up to 21 February. I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being," he said.

Ms Shabazz said she wished him peace.

But in another interview, on Fox News Sunday, Mr Farrakhan strongly denied that his remarks should be seen as an admission that he played any role in the killing.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
Malcolm X with Martin Luther King at a civil rights meeting in 1964
"My concern is the mischief of the media to say to the American people that Louis Farrakhan admits complicity in the murder of Malcolm X," he said.

"I believe there is still an effort to discredit Louis Farrakhan. It is known that I have nothing to do with the assassination of Brother Malcolm."

Malcolm X had originally worked alongside the Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad, but he later broke away formed his own campaign, the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, which adopted a more inclusive attitude towards people of other ethnic backgrounds.

The new comments from Mr Farrakhan come after years of acrimony between Mr Farrakhan and the family of Malcolm X.

Five years ago, Mr Farrakhan apologised to Malcolm X's widow, Betty, ending 30 years of acrimony between them.

Public relations

A year earlier, another daughter, Quibilah, had been charged with hiring a hit man to kill Mr Farrakhan. The charges were later dropped.

The renewed apology has sparked accusations from some that Mr Farrakhan was engaged in a public relations stunt rather than a public confession.

BBC correspondent Jane Little says the remarks seem to be part of concerted moves by the Nation of Islam leader towards a more conciliatory approach, which may have been sparked by recent treatment for serious prostate cancer.

He has invited Asian-Americans and Latinos to join a planned Million Family March this autumn, which follows his Million Man March in 1995.

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27 Feb 00 | Americas
Farrakhan bid for Islamic unity
02 Jul 98 | UK
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31 Mar 98 | Americas
Malcolm X killer heads mosque
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