On August 13, 2017, suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gunmen opened fire on a Turkish restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 19 people were killed and 22 others were wounded.
The NOI has utilized multiple media platforms to connect its members and spread its messages, though several social-media companies have taken down extremist posts by the group and/or Farrakhan, and, in some cases, have removed the NOI’s official accounts.
The NOI’s YouTube channel posted and hosted videos until YouTube terminated it on October 2, 2020, for violating the platform’s “[s]trict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube.”“The Nation of Islam,” Nation of Islam YouTube channel, accessed September 10, 2020, account terminated on October 2, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/c/TheNationofIslam/about; Aaron Bandler, “YouTube Removes Nation of Islam Channel,” Jewish Journal (Los Angeles), October 5, 2020, https://jewishjournal.com/news/united-states/322505/youtube-removes-nation-of-islam-channel/. However, YouTube has not taken down the YouTube channels of the NOI’s European Headquarters, several NOI Temples, and numerous supporters of the group.“The Nation of Islam European Headquarters,” Nation of Islam European Headquarters, accessed October 15, 2020, YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmozN-65qkewKYi1VNW4z4Q/about; “The Nation of Islam London Study Group,” Nation of Islam London Study Group, accessed October 15, 2020, YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/c/LondonStudyGroup/about; “MUHAMMADTEMPLE15,” Muhammad’s Temple of Islam No. 15, accessed October 15, 2020, YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/MUHAMMADTEMPLE15/about; “Muhammad Mosque#65,” Muhammad Mosque No. 65, accessed October 15, 2020, YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfHXvgcLilS3LbBlcziMJ7A/; about Lenore Muhammad, “The Nation of Islam’s M.G.T. & G.C.C. Presents Home Pressure Canning,” Abdul Qiyam Muhammad, posted on March 31, 2020, YouTube video, 18:55, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLY6lDr17o4; Abdullah Tahama, “U.S. Army Training vs FOI Training—Minister Abdulla Tahama,” Laugh at First Site, posted on March 22, 2019, YouTube video, 13:13, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XeP9q2sRAA; Steven Price, “F.O.I Commercial,” Culture Revolution, posted on February 25, 2014, YouTube video, 2:01, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LaA2YmUzgM.
On May 2, 2019, Facebook declared Farrakhan’s rhetoric dangerous and shut down his account, as well as accounts belonging to related Facebook groups.Oliver Darcy, “Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Other ‘Dangerous’ Voices Banned by Facebook and Instagram,” CNN, May 3, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/02/tech/facebook-ban-louis-farrakhan-infowars-alex-jones-milo-laura-loomer/index.html. Farrakhan’s account on Facebook-owned Instagram was also terminated.Oliver Darcy, “Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Other ‘Dangerous’ Voices Banned by Facebook and Instagram,” CNN, May 3, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/02/tech/facebook-ban-louis-farrakhan-infowars-alex-jones-milo-laura-loomer/index.html; Jonathan Barr, “Pro-Louis Farrakhan Facebook Resurfaces after Ban, Name Change,” Forbes, June 30, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanberr/2019/06/30/pro-louis-farrakhan-facebook-resurfaces-after-ban-name-change/#2172af1b5a01. However, there are dozens of official and unofficial Nation of Islam pages and groups on Facebook.“Muslim Girls’ Training and General Civilization Class,” NOI: Denver Study Group, posted on September 18, 2015, Facebook video, 1:19, https://www.facebook.com/MuhammadMosque51/videos/1116458361711289/?v=1116458361711289; The Final Call, Facebook page, accessed October 16, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/TheFinalCallNewspaper/; “Nation of Islam” search terms, Facebook, accessed September 10, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/search/pages/?q=nation%20of%20islam&epa=SERP_TAB. Some of those groups attempted to skirt the ban by changing their names.Jonathan Barr, “Pro-Louis Farrakhan Facebook Resurfaces after Ban, Name Change,” Forbes, June 30, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanberr/2019/06/30/pro-louis-farrakhan-facebook-resurfaces-after-ban-name-change/#2172af1b5a01.
NOI leaders are also active on Twitter, which continues to leave up Farrakhan and the NOI’s accounts.Louis Farrakhan (@LouisFarrakhan), Twitter page, accessed October 15, 2020, https://twitter.com/LouisFarrakhan; The Nation of Islam (@OfficialNOI), Twitter page, accessed October 16, 2020, https://twitter.com/OfficialNOI; “Twitter Removes Verified Status from Louis Farrakhan’s Account,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 11, 2018, https://www.jta.org/2018/06/11/united-states/twitter-removes-verified-status-louis-farrakhans-account. Twitter removed its verified-status checkmark from Farrakhan’s account in June 2018 after his account posted a tweet about “unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan,” along with a YouTube link to a three-hour sermon from that May.“Twitter Removes Verified Status from Louis Farrakhan’s Account,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 11, 2018, https://www.jta.org/2018/06/11/united-states/twitter-removes-verified-status-louis-farrakhans-account. On October 16, 2018, Farrakhan posted on Facebook and Twitter a video of his speech in honor of the anniversary of the Million Man March. In the video Farrakhan declared, “[W]hen they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, call me anti-Semite. Stop it. I’m anti-termite.”“Video of Louis Farrakhan Comparing Jews to Termites Removed from Facebook,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 21, 2018, https://www.jta.org/2018/10/21/united-states/farrakhan-termites-video-removed-facebook; Sean Burch, “Facebook Removes Louis Farrakhan Video Comparing Jews to Termites: ‘Tier 1 Hate Speech,’” TheWrap, October 18, 2018, https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-removes-louis-farrakhan-video-comparing-jews-to-termites-tier-1-hate-speech/. Facebook removed the post for violating its hate-speech policies, but Twitter left the post online, claiming its policy against dehumanizing speech had not yet been implemented.“Video of Louis Farrakhan Comparing Jews to Termites Removed from Facebook,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 21, 2018, https://www.jta.org/2018/10/21/united-states/farrakhan-termites-video-removed-facebook; Sean Burch, “Facebook Removes Louis Farrakhan Video Comparing Jews to Termites: ‘Tier 1 Hate Speech,’” TheWrap, October 18, 2018, https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-removes-louis-farrakhan-video-comparing-jews-to-termites-tier-1-hate-speech/.
On July 9, 2019, Twitter introduced a new rule prohibiting the dehumanization of religious groups and called on Farrakhan to delete his 2018 tweet of the video of his “anti-termite” speech.Oliver Darcy, “Twitter Says Louis Farrakhan’s 2018 Anti-Semitic Tweet Violates New Rules,” CNN, July 9, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/09/media/twitter-louis-farrakhan/index.html; “Updating Our Rules against Hateful Conduct,” Twitter, March 5, 2020, https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2019/hatefulconductupdate.html. On January 18, 2020, Twitter briefly suspended Farrakhan’s account, but later reinstated it and said the suspension was a mistake caused by an error in the company’s spam filter.Anthony Leonardi, “Twitter Mistakenly Suspends and Later Reinstates Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan,” Washington Examiner, January 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/twitter-mistakenly-suspends-and-later-reinstates-nation-of-islam-leader-louis-farrakhan.
With these far-reaching platforms, Farrakhan has continued to inspire celebrities. In June 2020, comedian Chelsea Handler posted to her Instagram account a clip of Farrakhan on “The Phil Donahue Show.” Handler later apologized and removed the clip after initially defending it.Marcy Oster, “Chelsea Handler Apologizes for Posting Louis Farrakhan Video Clip,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 23, 2020, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/chelsea-handler-apologizes-for-posting-louis-farrakhan-video-clip. Actress Jessica Chastain also shared the Farrakhan clip, while celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Garner liked the posting on Instagram. Chastain later deleted the clip from her account.Marcy Oster, “Chelsea Handler Apologizes for Posting Louis Farrakhan Video Clip,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 23, 2020, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/chelsea-handler-apologizes-for-posting-louis-farrakhan-video-clip. In July 2020, Madonna posted to her Instagram account a video featuring Farrakhan declaring that the United States is “unraveling,” “cascading downward,” and “coming to an end.”Madonna, Instagram account, July 4, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCPObbRhu1s/.
Farrakhan had been scheduled to give a Fourth of July speech on Fox Soul TV, part of Fox Corporation, but the channel canceled his appearance after a widespread backlash.Ben Sales, “What Is Fox Soul TV? And Is It Broadcasting a Speech by Louis Farrakhan?,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 29, 2020, https://www.jta.org/2020/06/29/culture/what-is-fox-soul-tv-and-is-it-broadcasting-a-speech-by-louis-farrakhan. Farrakhan’s speech was instead livestreamed on the NOI’s website and uploaded to the group’s YouTube channel.“Minister Louis Farrakhan’s July 4th Address: The Criterion,” Nation of Islam, posted on July 4, 2020, Nation of Islam YouTube channel, account terminated on October 2, 2020, YouTube video, 3:55:56, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cmdGOUumVY. Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs also broadcasted Farrakhan’s speech on his Revolt TV cable network.Cassie Da Costa, “The Disturbing Rise of Anti-Semitism among Black Celebs,” Daily Beast, July 17, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-disturbing-rise-of-anti-semitism-among-Black-celebs-from-diddy-and-nick-cannon-to-ice-cube?ref=scroll.
Several professional athletes have also praised Farrakhan in 2020, eliciting widespread denunciation. That May, retired National Football League player Donovan McNabb shared on Twitter a picture of Farrakhan and a quote about seeking justice.Kyle Dalton, “Did Donovan McNabb’s Recent Posts on Louis Farrakhan Inspire DeSean Jackson?,” Sportscasting, July 10, 2020, https://www.sportscasting.com/did-donovan-mcnabbs-recent-posts-on-louis-farrakhan-inspire-desean-jackson/. On July 5, Desean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles football team praised Farrakhan on his Instagram account and shared a quote about Jews controlling the world that has been falsely attributed to Hitler. The owners of the Eagles swiftly condemned his comments and Jackson later apologized.Les Bowen and Rob Tornoe, “Eagles’ DeSean Jackson Apologizes for Anti-Semitic Posts, Says He’ll ‘Do Better’ and ‘Educate Myself,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 7, 2020, https://www.inquirer.com/eagles/desean-jackson-eagles-anti-semitic-instagram-posts-adolph-hitler-louis-farrakhan-jewish-coronavirus-vaccine-20200707.html. On July 8, former National Basketball Association player Stephen Jackson defended Desean Jackson’s comments and accused “the Jews” of trying to divide the Black community while controlling the world’s wealth. Stephen Jackson went on to declare his “love” for Farrakhan.Des Bieler, “Stephen Jackson Says DeSean Jackson Is ‘Speaking the Truth,’ Adds Anti-Semitic Claims of His Own,” Washington Post, July 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/07/08/stephen-jackson-says-desean-jackson-is-speaking-truth-adds-anti-semitic-claims-his-own/. Since then, several prominent Black Americans have come out in defense of this “quote” and the sentiments behind it, including rapper and actor Ice Cube, comedian Nick Cannon, rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, and author Alice Walker.Cassie Da Costa, “The Disturbing Rise of Anti-Semitism among Black Celebs,” Daily Beast, July 17, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-disturbing-rise-of-anti-semitism-among-Black-celebs-from-diddy-and-nick-cannon-to-ice-cube. All have quoted Farrakhan in defending Jackson’s initial post.Cassie Da Costa, “The Disturbing Rise of Anti-Semitism among Black Celebs,” Daily of Beast, July 17, 2020, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-disturbing-rise-of-anti-semitism-among-Black-celebs-from-diddy-and-nick-cannon-to-ice-cube.
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