An interview with
Minister Louis Farrakhan
on Fox TV's Tony Snow show
[Editor's note: Prior to departing on his 50-nation World Friendship Tour III, Minister Louis Farrakhan conducted his last one-on-one television interview with FOX TV's Tony Snow. The following text is from that interview.]
Tony Snow (TS): Yesterday, you were on television talking about the situation in Iraq. Do you think America's hostility to Iraq is fueled by racism?
MLF: I don't know that it's fueled by racism, but I do believe it is fueled by a gross misunderstanding and fear of Islam and the possible unity of one billion, four hundred million Muslims.
TS: Do you really think that people see Saddam Hussein as an Islamic leader rather than a military dictator?
MLF: I'm sure the American public sees him as military dictator, but we have to see that that is an Islamic nation. The people of Iraq are Muslims. The posture of the United States government against Iraq, with the sanctions, are not harming Saddam Hussein, but have killed 1.4 million civilians with 681,000 children under the age of five. As a Muslim, I see this as something against a Muslim nation, not so much against a military dictator.
TS: Do you think Saddam Hussein has betrayed the teachings of Islam by deliberately starving his own people?
MLF: I don't think that Saddam Hussein is deliberately starving his own people. I would think that a man who gets 99 percent of the people to vote for him in an election and the people love him so much, how could they love a man who is starving them? I think he's more popular with his people than President Clinton is with the American people.
TS: Do you really? I'm mean here's a man who murdered political opponents. Do you think that's O.K.?
MLF: The United States government's hands are not clean in murdering political opponents. I don't think that's a proper question because most political leaders in the world have never been saints. This is why this has been a century of war, and we're looking forward to a century of peace. Spiritual leaders must take their blinders off and come back to the divine teachings of their prophets and lift those teachings so that we can say to the political leaders, thus sayeth the Lord. Then we might have a new century of peace.
TS: So you think it's time for religious leaders to talk not merely to Bill Clinton but also to Saddam Hussein?
MLF: To all the political leaders of the world.
TS: Do you admire Saddam?
MLF: I don't know enough about Saddam Hussein to say that I admire him. But I do respect his tenacity in spite of all that is against him. Imagine, 28 armies and 32 nations against one man. And this is the only time that a war has ended but the war still rages on. I would hope that President Clinton and his advisers would see the failure of these policies and immediately end the sanctions, and let's sit down and talk to Saddam Hussein, leader-to-leader, human being to human being. I believe he wants a better relationship with America. I hope that when I go to Iraq that I will be able to report to the American people that here is a man that is ready to sit down talk with the American administration and come to terms over disagreements with America.
TS: You don't have any fear that he will use you as a political tool?
MLF: I don't think I can be used as a political tool unless I desire to be used as such. I don't desire to be used as a tool either for or against, but a tool for truth, for justice, for reconciliation and for responsibility.
TS: You also plan to go to Israel. Is that correct?
MLF: Yes, sir.
TS: What do you want to do there?
MLF: I would like very much to sit down with the political and religious leaders to hear from them their side of this controversy as I have been invited by the Shaykh of Al-Aqsa Mosque and President Arafat to sit down with them. I do believe that the religious leaders, Jewish and Muslim, who come from the same Abrahamic tradition, that they should begin to come back to that tradition and perhaps peace can come to that troubled area of the world.
TS: Sir, you have complained in the past about watered down religion. There's a quote that's been read back to you many times, and I'm going to read it to you again. You said, 'Now, that nation called Israel never had any peace in 40-years, and she'll never have any peace because there can be no peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your (gutter) religion under his holy and righteous name.' You're not saying that all Jews--that Judaism is a gutter religion there?
MLF: Absolutely not.
TS: But you are saying that the state of Israel has perverted the teachings of Judaism. Is that correct?
MLF: I'm saying that lying and stealing and thievery and murder to achieve political ends makes us defame our religion whether we are Muslims, whether we are Christians or whether we are Jews. The fact is that Israel has not had any peace in 40 years, and there can be no peace as long as there is no justice. My call in Israel and my call to the Palestinian leaders is that we must sit down at the table and look at what is the principle of justice; and if the principle of justice is applied to Israel as well as to the Palestinians, I believe we can have peace.
TS: You talked about lying, thievery, murder. That also has been practiced by some Muslims in that region.
MLF: Of course.
TS: So, would Islam also be for those people a gutter religion?
MLF: ... the revealed word of God can never be considered gutter or dirty. God reveals his truth to bring human beings who have fallen into the gutter out of the gutter. But when we use religion as a pretext for moral correctness and then violate the precepts and the teachings of that religion, we are besmirching the name of that religion. Christians have done it. Muslims have done it. Jews have done it. And some are still besmirching the religion by what we do.
TS: As you know, there are some people who say that the Nation of Islam practices a watered down version of Islam. Why is there no requirement that men in the Nation of Islam go, for instance, on the Hajj, the pilgrimage?
MLF: There is that requirement. I've been to Hajj. My wife and several of the leadership of the Nation of Islam have been to Hajj and, in fact, in the year 2000, by the grace of God, I hope to take 10,000 members of the Nation of Islam to pilgrimage.
TS: Earlier today, Bill Richardson, our U.N. ambassador ... said that your trip was unhelpful and illegal, that because of the sanctions no American is allowed to travel to Iraq. What is your reaction?
MLF: Well, poor Bill Richardson, he's the U.N. ambassador and the State Department has a policy that he can't shake the hand of a Cuban ambassador, an Iraqi ambassador, a Sudanese ambassador, a Libyan ambassador. What kind of foolishness is this? How can you conduct foreign policy and you won't even sit down and shake hands with someone you suppose or propose or say is a rogue. (General Robert E.) Lee and General (Ulysses S.) Grant had respect for each other though they were enemies of each other, but they were Americans. America has respect for Russia, and even though Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire, he shook hands with Brezhnev and ... an American leader shook hands with Kruschev. This does not make sense. And to say I'm going illegally, what is illegal about a Muslim going to a Muslim country to see and talk about Muslim suffering? I don't regard that as illegal.
TS: Do you plan to write a report and send it to the White House?
MLF: I most certainly will.
TS: Speaking of the White House, the president has talked a lot about a panel on race relations, a national dialogue. Have you asked to join that dialogue?
MLF: No, I have not asked.
TS: I know they have not asked you.
MLF: Nor have I been asked, and I'm the type of person, Mr. Snow, that I don't force myself into places where I may not be wanted. Mr. Clinton, I'm sure, would want me to be on a panel like that. But, politically, the brick bats that he might receive for even suggesting my name is not politically ...
TS: Who would throw the brick bats?
MLF: The same people who threw brick bats at Mayor Daley (Chicago) for even daring to sit down with me, or Mayor Rendell in Philadelphia for inviting me to the city, or any Jewish or non-Jewish leader who would sit with me giving me 'the aura of respectability' or 'the aura of one who is being honored' so to speak.
TS: If race relations suddenly got good in the United States would you be out of business?
MLF: Of course not. Truth is never out of business. I am not respected as a leader simply because race relations are bad. I am respected as a leader because conditions beyond race are not good. The human condition is not good. The moral condition of the human family is not good. Those of us who have been ordained of God to speak to those conditions would never be out of business until sin is out of business.
TS: You've talked a lot about reconciliation recently, could a white male join the Nation of Islam?
MLF: There are white Muslims all over the world.
TS: But I'm talking about the Nation of Islam.
MLF: The Nation of Islam is bigger than the Nation of Islam in the West. We are called the Lost and Found Members of the Nation of Islam, and that Nation of Islam is Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White. I do believe that as a the Nation of Islam matures, you'll find Hispanics, you'll find Native Americans, and you'll find Whites that want to be Muslims; and none of us could say to a white person who says he bears witness that there is no God but Allah that we would not respect him as a Muslim.
TS: You carry with you a fairly large and impressive, and I must say wonderful to deal with, entourage. Are you afraid that someone is trying to kill you?
MLF: Well, that's reality. The president has an entourage. The pope does too. I don't know that the president is afraid that somebody is going to kill him. But history has taught us many lessons. There are people that love you and there are people that hate you. And organized hate is much more effective than disorganized love.
TS: You have been fighting cancer for some time. Are you afraid of dying?
MLF: No, I'm not afraid of dying. That's something we all have to do. I'm afraid of dying and failing to be strong with God. The Qur'an says it like this. And keep your duty to Allah. And die not unless you are in obedience to His will.
TS: When you sit down and you give thanks, what do you give thanks for?
MLF: Oh, there's so much. To give thanks for life. To give thanks to be in the creation of a marvelous God. To be able to wake up and see the beauty of this creation. And then to look at human beings and see if God is present in their lives as He is in everything of creation. That's what I give thanks for.
TS: Do you think before the end of your days you will have reconciliation with American Jews?
MLF: I would like to have reconciliation with American Jews today, not to wait until the end of my life. But reconciliation can only come based on dialogue, and dialogue has to be between the persons who are ill-effected. If one person is ready to dialogue and the other says we're not going to dialogue with you unless you apologize ... preconditions never will be acceptable to me. But I'm ready at any time to dialogue with the Jewish community and put an end to the controversy that is between us.
TS: Minister Louis Farrakhan, thank you so much for joining us today.
Final Call Online Edition
©1997 FCN Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
External Links are not necessarily endorsed by FCN Publishing