CHICAGO, (AP) — A Nation of Islam official who serves on a state hate crimes commission said Tuesday it’s ridiculous that she has been condemned for remarks made by the religious movement’s leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad’s comments were her first since four members of the Governor’s Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes resigned last week rather than serve with her.
“For those who try to condemn me because of the honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s remarks,” she said on WVON-AM, “it’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”
Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointment of Muhammad to the commission in August drew no public attention until she invited commissioners to attend a speech given by Farrakhan, who is known for his disparaging remarks about Jews, whites and gays.
Some commissioners began criticizing her presence on the panel after Farrakhan’s speech Feb. 26 in Chicago that included references to “Hollywood Jews” promoting homosexuality and “other filth.”
Muhammad said Tuesday she and her family have been victims of hate crimes and discrimination, and that she has Jewish family members, has traveled to Israel and has worshipped in synagogues.
“Please know I am not the victimizer here, OK, but instead I am the victim,” she said. She refused to repudiate Farrakhan and recommended that people who disagree with him, speak with him.
Three Jewish commission members resigned last week, saying her support for Farrakhan contradicts the panel’s goals. They called on her to repudiate Farrakhan’s remarks. A state lawmaker whom Blagojevich appointed to fill one of the vacancies also resigned Friday.
The Democratic governor said Monday that Muhammad is not responsible for any racist remarks Farrakhan has made. He has said he didn’t realize he had appointed a Nation of Islam official until learning about it from news reports.