DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, warned President Donald Trump not to pull “the trigger of war in the Middle East . at the insistence of Israel,” speaking Thursday while on a visit to Iran.
The 85-year-old Farrakhan, long known for provocative comments widely considered anti-Semitic, criticized the economic sanctions leveled by Trump against Iran after America’s pullout from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Farrakhan told journalists in Tehran that he is “begging our president and the government that supports him to be very, very careful.”
“The war will trigger another kind of war which will bring China, Russia, all of the nations into a war,” he said. “The war will end America as you know it.”
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Farrakhan leads the Nation of Islam, a black separatist religious movement. The Nation has been largely closed off to outsiders, making it impossible even for those who follow the movement closely to gauge its strength.
For Farrakhan, the height of his prominence came when he organized the 1995 Million Man March in Washington, a symbol of black pride and empowerment.
Earlier on his trip to Iran, state television published a short video clip of Farrakhan trying to say “Death to Israel” in Farsi, a common chant at rallies in the decades after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. He began to repeat it, but the crowd at Tehran University sitting at Farrakhan’s event then substituted “America” for “Israel,” drawing laughter.
After the video clip spread online, Farrakhan issued a statement saying: “I never led a chant calling for death to America.”
“I asked a question about how to pronounce the chant in Farsi during my meeting with Iranian students and an examination of the video shows just that,” he said.
On Thursday, Farrakhan reacted angrily to an Iranian state television’s request to repeat the chant. However, he kept his harshest words for Trump.
“It is your policies that are eroding trust for you in the world, favor for you in the world, and now you are pulling apart, confused,” Farrakhan said, addressing Trump. “If you do this, you will bring about — not the Iranian chant — you will bring about the death of the greatest nation that has been on this Earth in the last 6,000 years.”