By Frederick Cusick and Michael Currie Schaffer
Speaking to a large crowd in South Philadelphia on Wednesday, August 31, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suggested that the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the violence America had inflicted on Iraq.
"New Orleans is the first of the cities going to tumble down... unless America changes its course," Farrakhan said.
"It is the wickedness of the people of America and the government of America that is bringing the wrath of God down," he told several hundred people at Tinsley Temple United Methodist Church.
His remarks were enthusiastically received.
He was in town as part of a multicity tour designed to drum up support for an Oct. 15 event in Washington designed to build on and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March he organized in 1995. The new effort is called the Millions More Movement.
Farrakhan made similar remarks at a luncheon hosted by District 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents blue-collar city workers.
"The justice of God is coming home now," he said in an hour-long speech. Among those attending were City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Mayor Street's son Sharif Street, and Imam Shamsud-din Ali, the Muslim cleric convicted in the City Hall corruption probe.