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Holocaust survivor blasts Pfleger for giving Farrakhan ‘platform for hatred’

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's participation in a a rally Thursday on the South Side is drawing criticism from Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall | Getty

The president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center — herself a survivor of Nazi Germany — is blasting South Side pastor Michael Pfleger for allowing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to speak at his church Thursday.

“Totally shame on you,” Fritzie Fritzshall said in an interview.

Last week, Facebook banned the leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam as part of the tech giant’s efforts to rid its websites of hate speech and “dangerous” people and organizations. Through the years, Farrakhan has frequently made anti-Semitic comments, including in speeches last year when he said “powerful Jews are my enemy.”

“I don’t understand Father Pfleger because I’ve always thought he was one for peace,” Fritzshall told the Chicago Sun-Times. “What he’s doing today and what he’s doing with Farrakhan is giving him a platform for hatred — hatred he has spoken about for many, many years.”

A spokesperson for Pfleger said Thursday afternoon that the reverend would not take questions until the event tonight, which is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Sabina, 1210 W. 78th Place.

But he issued a written statement saying he was “saddened at this statement and the misrepresentation.”

“Anyone who knows me and my life’s work knows I have sought to fight for the Beloved Community that Dr. [Martin Luther] King called us to,” he wrote.

He said he issued the invitation to Farrakahn to respond to Facebook’s action as a “defender of free speech. Too many people struggled and died for the right of free speech and I will continue to struggle to preserve it.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement Thursday evening that Pfleger’s event with Farrakhan was “not sponsored” by the archdiocese, and that Cardinal Blase Cupich “was not consulted” ahead of the invitation.The statement went on, without any further mention of either man, to support freedom of speech but condemn “discriminatory rhetoric of any kind.”RELATED ARTICLES

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