RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- A local group is disputing claims made by a well-known civil rights organization that it has a “legacy of hate.”
CBS6 first reported about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map” on Monday.
The center studies “hate” in American and classifies hundreds of groups across the country as “hate groups.”
Three of those groups are located in Richmond, including the Nation of Islam, and 26 total are located in the state.
Minister Tracy Muhammad serves as the Virginia and Richmond Representative to the Nation of Islam, and he disputed the SPLC’s findings.
“Our history in America is such that we have been a blessing to this country,” Muhammad said.
The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a national group led by Louis Farrakhan, with chapters all over the country.
The SPLC designates the NOI as a “hate group,” but Muhammad said that is absolutely not true.
“We`re not racist, we`re not anti-Semitic,” Muhammad said.
On the SPLC’s website, the center writes “the deeply racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay rhetoric of its leaders have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”
But, Muhammad said that is simply false.
“Neither one of those three charges is true…the Nation of Islam is, and will always be, about the uplifting and resurrection of oppressed people here in America, whether they be black, brown, red, yellow, or white,” Muhammad said.
To that point, CBS 6 asked Muhammad about various anti-Semitic statements the SPLC said the organization’s leader, Louis Farrakhan, made about Jewish people.
“Minister Farrakhan has stated he admires Jewish people, but he does not approve of, nor do we, the inexorbitant control that Jewish people have over the lives and destiny of black people here in America,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad said no-one affiliated with the Nation of Islam has ever committed a hate crime, and the SPLC is pegging the wrong group as perpetuating hate.
“We are the victims of racism, it was not the Nation of Islam or black people who set up separate bathrooms, hotels, neighborhoods,” Muhammad said.
The SPLC said the NOI is one of three hate groups operating in the Richmond area.
The other two are the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, and the Confederate Hammerskins.