- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

CHICAGO (UPI) Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has denied a report quoting him as saying he hopes Iraq wins any military confrontation with the United States.

The Iraqi News Agency quoted Mr. Farrakhan as saying, "Muslim American people are praying to the almighty God to grant victory to Iraq."

"That absolutely is not true," Mr. Farrakhan said Wednesday in a broadcast interview from South Africa, the latest stop on his tour of the Middle East and Africa. "The victory for Iraq, as well as for the United States of America, would be peace so that no United States soldier would be put in harm's way, or one bomb dropped on the Iraqi people. That would be a victory for both sides, and that's the victory that I and those with me are praying for not a war and a victory, but peace as the victory for both sides."

The Iraqi News Agency also said Mr. Farrakhan "expressed admiration for the Iraqis' steadfastness against the aggression and continued embargo." A spokesman for Mr. Farrakhan said that statement was, in part, correct.

"He said he has a higher appreciation of the way that the Iraqi people have rebuilt their society and their steadfastness to see life go on, almost as normal, even under the threat of an attack," spokesman Akbar Muhammad told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mr. Farrakhan, accompanied by Christian clergymen, a Muslim imam, reporters and representatives of the Nation of Islam, visited Iraq last weekend as part of a peace mission. While in Iraq, Mr. Farrakhan met with government officials, including Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan, and religious leaders.

"I would never ask God to allow the American people, of whom I am one, to be slaughtered in a war or to die in a war for really what I see is a vendetta of our government against Saddam Hussein," Mr. Farrakhan said.

Mr. Farrakhan has met Saddam in the past and has expressed opposition to reports of U.S. plans to topple the Iraqi leader.

In remarks posted on the Nation of Islam's Web site, Mr. Farrakhan said, "The hatred for the American government and its policies not for the American people is not subsiding, but increasing" in the Muslim world.

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