TORONTO — Avoiding a confrontation with Canadian immigration authorities who had promised to arrest and deport him if he entered the country, controversial Nation of Islam member Khalid Abdul Muhammad addressed a gathering here Sunday by telephone.
Muhammad, a former top aide to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, has been widely criticized in the United States for anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-white comments. Immigration officials said Friday that they would bar him from entering Canada, citing his 1987 fraud conviction and the prospect that he would violate the country's laws against hate speech.
Organizers of his talk then announced that he would appear anyway, and nearly 200 people paid $8 to $10 each Sunday to hear him. After a lengthy delay and 90 minutes of speeches by local black activists, the crowd was told Muhammad would not appear in person. His 20-minute speech was amplified into the hall from an undisclosed location and drew an enthusiastic response. Muhammad said he still would like to come to Canada later this month or next for a personal appearance.
Muhammad had been scheduled to speak Saturday night at the University of Toronto. After immigration officials said they would bar his entry, or arrest him if he slipped into Canada, the university, which had not sponsored the talk, canceled it.
In his speech, Muhammad criticized the Canadian government and "the so-called Jews of Canada" for barring his appearance, but devoted most of his talk to black unity, culture and empowerment, and the Nation of Islam. He also condemned drug use and violence.