US/World News

Photo of Obama, Farrakhan was suppressed at request of black lawmakers

(JTA) – Barack Obama posed for a photo in 2005 with Louis Farrakhan, the virulently antisemitic leader of the Nation of Islam movement, and the photographer said he suppressed its publication at the request of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The future president was the U.S. senator from Illinois at the time. The Trice Edney News Wire first published the photo on Jan. 20. It quotes the photographer, Askia Muhammad, saying that after snapping the picture at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, an unidentified member of the caucus asked him immediately not to run the photo. Muhammad said he gave the disk containing the photo to Farrakhan’s chief of staff. As there was already talk in 2005 of Obama running for president, Muhammad said he and others did not want to harm the Democrat’s chances. It isn’t clear who was employing Muhammad at the time, but he had previously worked for the Nation of Islam publication, The Final Call.

Jewish leaders have repeatedly denounced Farrakhan as an antisemite, noting his speeches accusing Jews variously of conspiring to control the government, the media and Hollywood.

Farrakhan apparently referred to the photo in 2016 toward the end of Obama’s second term, saying he had met privately with Obama and had a photo of them together. The newly released photo shows Obama and Farrakhan with members of Farrakhan’s family and the Rev. Willie Wilson, an organizer of Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995. Farrakhan expressed support for Obama’s candidacy in 2008, and Obama’s pastor at the time, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had praised Farrakhan on multiple occasions. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s rival, Hillary Clinton, called on him to repudiate Farrakhan. Obama did so during a primaries debate.

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