U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, apologized today for Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments during a talk he gave in a Detroit church last week.
Conyers, who attended Farrakhan’s speech Friday night at Fellowship Chapel, issued a strong statement that distanced himself from the Nation of Islam leader’s remarks, which were blasted earlier this week by a Jewish civil rights group and others.
“Farrakhan made unacceptable racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic statements, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Conyers said. “It was my expectation that Minister Farrakhan’s speech would focus on the many challenges facing the city of Detroit. In previous days, he had discussed efforts to revitalize our city by purchasing property and investing in blighted neighborhoods. Regrettably, he used this opportunity to promote views that have no place in civilized discourse.”
As the Free Press reported exclusively,Farrakhan attacked what he called “Satanic Jews” and the “Synagogue of Satan,”claiming Jewish people control major institutions in the U.S., such as the news media. Farrakhan also alleged that President Barack Obama “surrounded himself with Satan … members of the Jewish community.”
Conyers was slammed by conservative websites Wednesday for his presence at Farrakhan’s speech; his attendance was noted on the influential Drudge Report. Also, the country’s leading Jewish civil rights group, the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement Tuesday asking why Conyers and other Detroit leaders did not condemn Farrakhan’s remarks at the church, which is led by the head of the Detroit Branch NAACP, the Rev. Wendell Anthony.
Conyers said in his statement: “The fact that Minister Farrakhan has engaged in important charitable work aimed at expanding economic opportunities for underserved communities does not excuse these statements. I sincerely offer my apologies to my constituents and others who also may have been offended by the minister’s words.”
In a speech May 16 at a separate church in Detroit, Farrakhan denied he was anti-Semitic, saying: “Why do they say that Farrakhan is anti-Semitic? I’m 80 years old. I’ve never been arrested, not even for spitting on a sidewalk. … Is there a Jewish synagogue I’ve defaced?”