Nation of Islam plans huge rally

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH wing of the militant black separatist movement, the Nation of Islam (NoI), is to hold a "Ten Thousand Man March" in central London next month. The event, the most ambitious ever attempted by members in the UK, aims to repli- cate the "Million Man March" in Washington DC in 1995.

Karen Mohammed, spokeswoman for the NoI in the UK, said: "The march is being held on the third anniversary of the Washington march and, like the original, it will be a day of atonement aimed at black men." Scotland Yard confirmed that the rally had been given clearance to take place in Trafalgar Square on 16 October.

But leaders of the Jewish community are concerned that the rally will become a platform for the anti-semitic, anti-gay and anti-white demagoguery for which its leader, Louis Farrakhan, and other NoI members have become notorious.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called upon the police to crack down on any outbursts of Jew-baiting at the London meeting. A spokesman said: "We trust that the Metropolitan Police will monitor the rally and ensure there is no incitement to racial hatred."

Speakers are expected to include the movement's British leader, Wayne X, and the black comedian Leo Chester, now known as Leo Mohammed. They will be flanked by an honour guard of the "fruits of Islam", the sharp-suited, bow-tied men who act as the NoI "praetorian guard". An emissary from the NoI in the US is also expected to attend the rally.

But Mr Farrakhan, whose presence would guarantee a massive crowd, will not be there. He was barred from entering Britain in 1986 because the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, feared his violent rhetoric would create disorder. The present Home Secretary, Jack Straw, renewed the exclusion order in July.

The 1995 march attracted several hundred thousand black men from all over the US to the capital, where Mr Farrakhan called upon them to "atone" for their "sins" of drug abuse, crime and irresponsible parenting. Likewise, NoI leaders in Britain say Afro-Caribbean men need to take more responsibility for their actions.

Leaflets publicising the march were distributed at the Notting Hill Carnival, but doubts remain whether the British NoI has the organisational ability to fill Trafalgar Square. To date, its presence in Britain has been low key, restricted to selling the NoI's newspaper, the Final Call and the occasional public meeting. Its following numbers fewer than 1,000 converts, based around several mosques in the inner-city areas of London, Birmingham and Manchester.

It has yet to make a real impact on the black community; its supremacist philosophy of separation from the "white world" is based on the bitter history of black America, and has never captured the imagination of the one million British blacks.

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