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Farrakhan delivers insult while denying he's anti-Semitic

CHICAGO (AP) — Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan referenced "Satanic Jews" in a speech denying allegations of anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia after Facebook banned him from the social media platform.

During the speech Thursday at a Roman Catholic church on Chicago's South Side, Farrakhan asserted people shouldn't be angry with him if "I stand on God's word," also saying that he knows "the truth," and "separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews."

Farrakhan was invited to speak at the church by the Rev. Michael Pfleger after Facebook banned Farrakhan, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulos, saying they violated its ban on "dangerous individuals."

Farrakhan, who turns 86 this weekend, said those who think he is a hater don't know him and have never had a conversation with him. He added those who hated him before and got to know him came to love him. He went on to say Facebook's contention that he is dangerous is true because what he says can be researched by his listeners.

"Social media you met me tonight. I plead with the rulers, let the truth be taught," he said. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich issued a statement Friday evening condemning Farrakhan's comments and saying Pfleger did not consult with him or other Chicago archdiocesan officials before extending the invitation to Farrakhan.

Farrakhan's "statements shock the conscience" Cupich said. "Antisemitic rhetoric — discriminatory invective of any kind — has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic church. I apologize to my Jewish brothers and sisters, whose friendship I treasure, from whom I learn so much, and whose covenant with God remains eternal," the cardinal said.

Farrakhan noted Cupich's predecessor, Cardinal Francis George, visited him in his home and had dinner with him, and he met with Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. "For those angry about me about coming to St. Sabina, how many would be angry with me meeting with Cardinal George and with the previous cardinal," he said. "That kind of hatred is insanity."

Pfleger, one of Chicago's most prominent activists, defended his invitation, saying he was responding to the Facebook ban as a defender of free speech. Hours before Farrakhan was scheduled to speak, officials of the Illinois Holocaust Museum spoke out against Pfleger for "giving hatred a platform."

Museum president and Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall said when community leaders like Pfleger provide a platform for bigotry and anti-Semitism, "it increases the threat against all of humanity."

Cupich encouraged Pfleger "to accept the invitation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center to meet with their leadership and dialogue with survivors." Pfleger has a history of clashing with Catholic church leadership.

Critics point to Farrakhan's characterization of Judaism as a "gutter religion' as evidence of anti-Semitism. And perhaps, most famously, in the 1980s, he came under intense criticism for what was seen as praise for Adolf Hitler. Widely quoted for calling Hitler a "great man," Farrakhan said the reports weren't accurate, and that he'd actually called the Nazi leader "wickedly great."

His allegedly anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-gay comments have prompted the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center to label him an extremist. Facebook, which did not detail specific comments that led to the ban of Farrakhan and the others, says it has always banned people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.

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