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Who is Louis Farrakhan? What to know about the controversial Nation of Islam leader

Every few years, the name Louis Farrakhan makes headlines. Last year, Farrakhan was among controversial figures such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Laura Loomer and Milo Yiannopoulos who were permanently banned from Facebook.

Association with Farrakhan has also evoked criticism. The Women’s March, for example, drew scrutiny for the leadership’s close alliance with him. Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, both original co-chairs, have come under fire for praising Farrakhan. Mallory, in particular, was forced to step down after it emerged that she had attended one of Farrakhan’s speeches in which he denounced “that Satanic Jew” and “white folks.”

So just who is Louis Farrakhan, and what does exactly he believe?

Religious leader Louis Farrakhan gives the keynote speech at the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day convention in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 19, 2017.
(Reuters)

Farrakhan is the leader and most prominent figure of the Nation of Islam, a militant black supremacist and nationalist group that formed in the 1930s.

Since taking leadership in the late 1970s, Farrakhan has been accused of anti-Semitism and homophobia for his comments and sermons.

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Farrakhan has blamed Jews for, among other things, the slave trade, Jim Crow and black oppression in general.

During a speech in Chicago in 1996, Farrakhan denounced Jews as “the synagogue of Satan.”

“You are wicked deceivers of the American people,” he said at the time. “You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending the nation to hell.”

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Born in New York City in 1933, Farrakhan rose through the ranks of the Nation of Islam in the 1950s. The group believes, among other things, that “race mixing” should be “prohibited,” and that blacks should have their own state.

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