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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 17:12 GMT
Farrakhan attacks 'unjust' UK ban
Louis Farrakhan
Mr Farrakhan: banned from the UK since 1986
The Nation of Islam's controversial leader, Louis Farrakhan, has attacked his ban on visiting the UK as "unjust" but admitted he was unlikely to set foot in the country.

Mr Farrakhan bypassed the restrictions by speaking to UK supporters at the Carling Hammersmith Apollo, in London via a satellite link.

It looks as though I will be banned from ever setting foot in the UK, except by travelling there today by satellite

Louis Farrakhan

The black American political leader is forbidden from entering this country after the Court of Appeal upheld Home Secretary David Blunkett's decision earlier this year.

In the past, he has made anti-Semitic and racially controversial statements.

The government has said the 68-year-old could threaten public order if allowed to enter Britain.

Mr Farrakhan said: "I want to thank all those who made it possible to fight a case that saw, for the first time, citizens of the UK fight their government to lift an unjust ban placed on me for nearly 17 years.

"They felt that it was unjust to keep me away from a visit to my own following in the UK and to give the people a chance to see me, hear me and judge for themselves."

However, he added: "It looks as though I will be banned from ever setting foot in the UK, except by travelling there today by satellite."

'Slave-makers'

Mr Farrakhan also revealed he was helping UK supporters pay off debt from the legal fight to lift the ban, by promoting a book about the Nation of Islam in Britain.

Hilary Muhammad, spokesman for UK Nation of Islam members, pictured in blue suit
Hilary Muhammad: UK members "excited" about the speech

During his speech, beamed live at 1600 GMT on Sunday from a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona, Farrakhan attacked the UK's colonial past, dubbing the country the world's worst "slave-makers and slave-masters".

He also said there had been widespread prejudice against Muslims in the UK since 11 September.

Mr Farrakhan said: "You can't show me one person that those who follow me have harmed.

"We have not plucked a strand of hair from one white person, one Jewish person, nor our own black brothers and sisters.

"But no, we are the haters, we are the anti-Semites."

Dangerous racist

The Nation of Islam leader has been banned from Britain since 1986.

Successive governments have refused him permission to visit.

His Chicago-based group has previously published aims which include "the regeneration of black self-esteem, dignity and self-discipline".

Mr Farrakhan's followers defend him as a respectable role model to young black men - preaching the virtues of self-respect, the family and Islam.

But others have described him as a dangerous racist and anti-Semite.

In the past he has called white people "devils" and Jews "bloodsuckers".

He once called Judaism a "gutter religion" and said Adolf Hitler was a "wickedly great man".

But his followers say Mr Farrakhan has toned down his language in recent years and his tours have never prompted violence.

See also:

30 Apr 02 | UK
15 Mar 02 | Newsmakers
30 May 02 | Correspondent
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