Nation of Islam leader minister Louis Farrakhan told a reported crowd of 1,500 blacks gathered at a historic Baptist church in Miami that "we should kill those who kill us," after referencing what he said was a Quranic teaching on retaliation. His controversial remarks drew the crowd to its feet and elicited wild applause.
Farrakhan, whose Nation of Islam black nationalist organization is described as being "founded on the basis of peace," was cheered as he called for retaliatory attacks in cases where the federal government is unable to bring about justice in certain cases pertaining to black Americans.
"I'm looking for 10,000 in the midst of a million. I'm looking for 10,000 in the midst of the million. Ten thousand fearless men who say death is sweeter than to continue life under tyranny," Farrakhan says in a video excerpt of his speech published online this week by the Nation of Islam.
"Death is sweeter than to continue to live and bury our children while white folks give the killer hamburgers," adds Farrakhan, alluding to the Charleston shooter who gunned down nine Christians inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June. Dylann Roof, the suspect, was given food from a Burger King after his arrest.
Farrakhan continues: "Death is sweeter than watching us slaughter each other to the joy of a 400-year-old enemy. Death is sweeter. The Quran teaches persecution is worse than slaughter. Then it says, retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain. Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breasts of those whose children have been slain. If the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them, and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling."
At the end of those remarks, also highlighted by Nation of Islam publication The Final Call, the crowd of men and women clap enthusiastically as they rise to their feet, apparently in agreement with the minister's remarks.
On Farrakhan's Facebook page, where the video excerpt was also posted, there was disagreement among top commenters as some felt the minister's words were just right, while others denounced his statements.
"It's a shame to see black men in this post with cowardly logic when there is an open war against you and your people. If you [sic] not ready to fight and/or die to help get us where we need to be, get out the way," writes Ian El-Hakim Shahid, in agreement with Farrakhan's remarks. "Retaliation is a must when you have been attacked. Those who don't believe in self defense are delusional and soft. Either you stand up like a man or die like a punk." More than 530 people expressed agreement with Shahid's response.
Joshua Drew Smith, a Christian, had more than 860 people agree with his rebuttal to the Nation of Islam leader's call for retaliation:
"This man is no man of God. He is a deceiver, a blasphemous false prophet who preaches the lies of Islam which denies the deity and Lordship of Christ. It is a damnable religion. Anything that comes forth out of this man's mouth should be rejected outright. His words are contrary to the word of God (Bible)," wrote Smith, who also included verses from Romans 12:19-21 that state: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
The 119-year-old Historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a nationally recognized historical site, provided space to the Nation of Islam for its public event, held July 30. The church's pastor, the Rev. Ralph M. Ross, told The Christian Post that he was in attendance when Farrakhan gave his controversial speech, and that he did not see anything wrong with the minister's call for retaliation, or in his point of view, Farrakhan's demand for justice.
"One of the things that troubles me is that people pull out of speeches what they want to present to the public. That man said something that I agree with," said Ross, who has been in the ministry for nearly 60 years and was also a Navy chaplain for two decades.
The Florida pastor briefly mentioned Trayvon Martin, the teen fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012, and the 2012 case involving Michael Dunn, a white man convicted last year of attempted murder for shooting into a car with three black teens.
"What he said was — and he even quoted the Constitution ... I can't quote it exactly. But he said if the government does not support us, we have a right to even challenge the government. And he said that if they killed us then we ought to kill them," Ross added. "But he spoke for almost two hours and that's all the people pulled out to put (online)."
The pastor noted that 20 years ago, for Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington, D.C., the minister called on men to be responsible for their families. For the upcoming 20th anniversary of the march, the Nation of Islam has organized the Justice or Else march to be held in October in the nation's capital. Justice or Else is "for men, women, children, African-Americans, Native Americans, the Latino community and everyone else seeking justice," according to organizers.
"This year, he's talking about justice. And he's calling upon different organizations — community organizations, church organizations or religions organizations, social and civic organizations to unite for justice, and that's basically what his speech was about," Ross said of Farrakhan's' remarks at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
When asked directly if he was in agreement with Farrakhan's statement — that "we must rise up and kill those who kill us" — and if it did not sound like a call for violence, Ross said, "Well it is a call for violence."
"I spent 20 years in the military and this country has one of the strongest militaries in the world. The reason it has that is to protect our way of life and our people from those who would attack us. I feel the same," he said. "Anybody who comes and attacks my family, I'm gonna try to kill them. I'm gonna do whatever is necessary to protect my family."
"I'm not a Muslim, but what he's saying is that we don't have protection, and we don't," said Ross, who then went on to question the alleged suicide of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a Texas jail after being arrested for a traffic violation three days earlier.
Ross, who said he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and knew the civil rights leader and his wife, grew up in the church. He told CP that he is a third-generation minister who preached his first sermon at 19, and that he has been leading Mount Zion for 25 years.
Asked for his understanding of the Bible's teaching on retaliation, Ross mentioned that Jesus told his disciples to take a sword at the end of his ministry. "But I don't want to get into that," he added quickly.
"I am not a Muslim, by choice. I feel like I'm saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ my Lord. But I respect other people's rights to believe what they want. I think that they might die and go to hell, but I also want to try to expose them to me and my faith. Hopefully they will be converted," Ross said.
The pastor clarified that the Nation of Islam approached Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church to request to use the building for its July 31 event. He suggested that other churches in the area turned Farrakhan down.
"People have their petty annoyances and they have certain feelings about people. I know Louis Farrakhan is a controversial person and I know people are afraid of him. I thought he was gonna die when he was sick before, and he made a tremendous recovery. What people say, I didn't realize it has so much power but apparently it does," Ross added.
Farrakhan's presence at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Miami was a part of a national tour the Nation of Islam leader has undertaken to promote the 20th anniversary of his Million Man March, to be commemorated with the Justice or Else gathering in Washington, D.C.
The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit in the 1930s by a controversial and mysterious white man known as W.D. Fard (also referred to as Wallace Fard Muhammad). The black nationalist organization, with its own brand of Islam, states that its mission "is to bring about a universal government of peace wherein we all can live in peace together." The Nation of Islam also states on its website that it believes in the Bible but that "it has been tampered with and must be reinterpreted," and that God (or Allah) "appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad" who they claim is the "long-awaited 'Messiah' of the Christians and the 'Mahdi' of the Muslims."
The Christian Post's request for comment from the Nation of Islam was still pending at press time.