(CNSNews.com) – Visiting Iran on the eve of the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan met at the weekend with a man wanted in connection with a major act of international terrorism, and told students that if they persevere, they can be victorious over the foe they call “the Great Satan.”
Farrakhan, whose comments about Jews have prompted critics to label him “America’s leading anti-Semite” and to urge Democratic lawmakers linked to him to resign, traveled to Iran as it marked the 39th anniversary of seizure of the U.S. Embassy and taking of American hostages.
While addressing students at the University of Tehran, he referred to sanctions which the Trump administration put back into place on Monday. Previously lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, the restored restrictions target Iran’s crucial energy and banking sectors.
“I am coming to you from the United States of America that is gloating over the fact that the president of the United States is going to place on the Islamic Republic the most stringent sanctions that have ever been placed on any nation before,” Farrakhan said.
In comments aired on the IRINN state television network – and made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) – Farrakhan cited a Qur’anic verse saying that nothing happens outside the will of Allah, then added that those who believe in Allah may ask, “Why is Iran suffering so much, particularly from the United States of America?”
“Is it not true that you have called America ‘the Great Satan’?” he continued. “Well, if you believe what you say, then would not Satan be actively involved in trying to destroy a nation that is set up on the belief and practice of submission to the will of God?”
The U.S. was making it difficult for Iran to “carry out its mission,” Farrakhan told his audience. “But if you have the strength to persevere under these hard trials, the victory will be yours.”
The state news agency IRNA also quoted Farrakhan as saying that the United States “has never been a democracy,” and that, “America is losing all over the world, and under President Trump, America is losing at a very quick pace.”
Tasnim news agency said Farrakhan had also led chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
A Tasnim video clip shows him only saying, “You say ‘[indecipherable] Israel,’” after which the Iranian sitting alongside him corrects him: “Marg bar Israel” (“Death to Israel” in Farsi.)
“Marg bar,” Farrakhan acknowledges with a nod. The audience then dutifully chants back, “Amreeka” (“America.”)
Last March the Republican Jewish Coalition challenged seven Democratic lawmakers over links to Farrakhan, saying that Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Danny Davis (Ill.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Al Green (Texas) should resign.
Afterwards several of them repudiated Farrakhan’s views – including Lee and Meeks on Twitter, and Carson and Davis in statements. Ellison said he had long ago disavowed Farrakhan’s controversial opinions.
All seven Democrats are up for re-election on Tuesday. (Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, is not returning to Congress but running for attorney-general of Minnesota.)
“When will the democrats disavow this guy?” Donald Trump Jr. asked on Twitter, linking to a headline about Farrakhan in Iran. “Answer: NEVER.”
In another tweet, Trump Jr. quipped of Farrakhan, “Democratic front runner for #2020.”
‘The enemies have plotted’
During his visit, Farrakhan – who has made provocative statements in Iran in past years – met with the long-tenured secretary of the regime’s Expediency Council, a body that advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Mohsen Rezai, who was commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from 1981 until 1997, is wanted by Argentina – and is the subject of an Interpol red notice – in connection with the deadliest terrorist attack in that country’s history: the 1994 suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which cost 85 lives.
The Mehr news agency quoted Farrakhan as telling Rezai, “I understand how the enemies have plotted against the Iranian people and I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots.”
Mehr said Rezai had told the American visitor that in the face of problems caused by Trump, Muslims need to unite and form an anti-hegemonic movement.
Turning to the 1979 hostage seizure, Rezai also told Farrakhan that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had ordered the release of African Americans and women among the hostages, to show that the revolution had no problem with the black people of America.
(Khomeini was quoted at the time as saying that he was ordering their release because “blacks for a long time have lived under oppression and pressure in America” and because “Islam reserves special rights for women.” The releases came two weeks after the seizure. Another 52 Americans were held for a total of 444 days.)
On Monday, Tasnim reported that Farrakhan has now also met with one of Shia Islam’s senior most figures, the Qom-based Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi.
Shirazi, who has dismissed the Holocaust as a “superstition,” was one of several top Iranian religious leaders accused by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech last July of rampant corruption under the cover of piety.