Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Farrakhan Trip Overseas Stirs Controversy at Home QADDAFI OFFERS $1 BILLION

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Farrakhan Trip Overseas Stirs Controversy at Home QADDAFI OFFERS $1 BILLION

Article excerpt

NATION of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose Million Man March in October galvanized hundreds of thousands of black men and shut down Washington for a day, has caught US officials off guard with a controversial 27-day trip through Africa. The trip included an unscheduled meeting on Jan. 23 with Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, who promised the black leader between $5 million and $1 billion to organize American blacks and minorities and to set up a lobby, according to Libyan news reports.

The administration views the Rev. Mr. Farrakhan's trip with increasing apprehension since President Clinton acknowledged the Million Man March and its aims, though he did not attend. Justice Department officials plan to question Farrakhan about the nature of his relationship with Colonel Qaddafi.

Black Muslim sources say the controversy and publicity of Farrakhan's trip are all part of the minister's strategy to achieve high visibility among his followers in America. It is an effort by Farrakhan to build on the Million Man March, extend his influence here and abroad, raise money, tweak the American Jewish community, and make US officials nervous, they say.

"I'm sure he likes to meet heads of state," says an American Muslim leader who requested anonymity. "He's trying to build himself up. This shows he's a leader."

Farrakhan's philosophy of separatist black nationalism has created a huge split between the Nation and the American Muslim community, including the largest black Muslim groups. On many occasions, the minister has made openly anti-Semitic statements. Moreover, the all-male march in Washington was criticized by some black women as sexist.

In his stops on the African continent, Farrakhan appealed to the need for Islamic solidarity and traditional values. He also met with South African President Nelson Mandela, who lectured him about tolerance and ending racism. …

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