CHICAGO (CBS) — Days after being banned from Facebook, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is fighting back with some help from Father Michael Pfleger, and while denying he is anti-Semitic, he claimed, “I’m here to separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews.”
During a speech Thursday night at St. Sabina, Pfleger asked everyone to stream Farrakhan’s appearance live on social media.
Pfleger welcomed a packed church before introducing his invited guest.
“This is the same Facebook that has been live streaming shootings, attempted rapes, white supremacists, racial name calling and countless other violent and racist acts,” Pfleger said.
The outspoken Catholic priest said he extended his pulpit to the controversial Nation of Islam leader on principle.
“It is dangerous to me when we begin to stop free speech and seek to silence prophetic voices,” Pfleger said.
Farrakhan supporters were asked to Facebook live the minister’s comments, which dozens did.
Farrakhan was just one of several people banned from the social media site. Facebook officials called them dangerous.
Farrakhan has been criticized for his anti-Semitic rhetoric, but in his speech at St. Sabina said he does not hate Jews, but spoke of “satanic Jews” at the end of his comments to the packed church.
“I don’t have no army. I just know the truth, and I’m here to separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews,” Farrakhan said.
“I have not said one word of hate. I do not hate Jewish people. Not one that is with me has ever committed a crime against the Jewish people, black people, white people,” he added. “As long as you don’t attack us, we won’t bother you.”
He also talked of censorship after bringing up the U.S. Constitution and alluding to free speech.
“You’ll find that there’s not another human being on this earth that speaks like Farrakhan, that challenges like Farrakhan, that has the wisdom of Farrakhan,” Farrakhan said.
Some supporters say concerns about free speech are why they attended.
“In my personal opinion, I’ve never heard him say anything that was hateful. He may say things to rebut issues and comments of others,” said one attendee.
But at a news conference earlier at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, officials there expressed concerns about giving Farrakhan the pulpit.
“We hope that the platform tonight will be focused in a positive way on our common humanity and the power of words for good,” the speaker at that event said.
Facebook did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
The Archdiocese of Chicago released the following statement regarding Farrakhan’s appearance at the church:
“The event involving Minister Louis Farrakhan at St. Sabina Parish is not sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Cardinal Cupich was not consulted before Fr. Pfleger announced the event.
The framers of our Constitution included freedom of speech in the First Amendment because they knew that it was essential to a healthy democracy. Without this sacred right, injustice goes unchecked. This is precisely why it must never be abused.
There is no place in American life for discriminatory rhetoric of any kind. At a time when hate crimes are on the rise, when religious believers are murdered in their places of worship, we cannot countenance any speech that dehumanizes persons on the basis of ethnicity, religious belief, economic status or country of origin. We are all part of the human family, and we owe it to one another, our children — and our creator — to act that way.”