An old photo of a smiling Barack Obama posing with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has emerged in the media long after it would have made any difference to the former president’s political career.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) January 25, 2018
Journalist Askia Muhammad said he took the photo in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting. He told the left-wing Talking Points Memo that he kept it under wraps all these years to protect Obama’s presidential ambitions.
According to Muhammad, a “staff member” with the CBC contacted him “sort of in a panic” after the picture was taken, and “arrangements” were made.
“I sort of understood what was going on,” Muhammad told TPM. “I promised and made arrangements to give the picture to Leonard Farrakhan,” the minister’s son-in-law and chief of staff. Muhammad said he gave them “the disk” from his camera, but kept a copy on his computer.
“Realizing that I had given it up, I mean, it was sort of like a promise to keep the photograph secret,” he explained.
“But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was President, it was kept under cover,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad had another concern as well. He told TPM he was afraid that someone might “break into his apartment” looking for it, like “that Watergate crap.”
“I was really, I guess, afraid of them,” he admitted.
He said he “felt a little bit more at ease” after Farrakhan in 2016 claimed that Obama visited his home in Chicago. Muhammad contacted Farrakhan in autumn 2017 with the “final manuscript” for a self-published book containing the photo.
“I sent him a copy of the manuscript suggesting that, showing him the picture, and saying to him, if he did not object, I was going to publish it,” Muhammad said. “He had no objection.”
Although Obama tried to distance himself from Farrakhan while he was running for president, the two were closer than he let on.
A former top deputy to the Nation of Islam told Newsmax back in 2008 that Obama and Farrakhan had had “an open line between them” to discuss policy and strategy for many years.
Dr. Vibert White Jr., who spent most of his adult life as a member and ultimately top officer of the Nation of Islam, said, “Obama was ‘part of the Chicago scene’ where Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and radicals would go to each other’s events and support each other’s causes.”
Obama attended the NOI’s Million Man March in Washington, D.C., in October of 1995, an event organized by Louis Farrakhan and his then-pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a ‘lock ’em up, take no prisoners’ mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress,” Obama said at the time.
“Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn’t care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing,” he said.
Farrakhan, who has made many outlandish statements over the years, received widespread condemnation in 2015 when he urged his followers to “stalk and kill” their enemies in the wake of high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men in Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri.
“The Koran teaches persecution is worse than slaughter,” Farrakhan preached on July 30 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Miami. “Then it says, retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain. Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breaths of those whose children have been slain.”
In case it wasn’t clear, he added, “We must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling.”
Then-President Barack Obama at the time had no comment.