(JTA) — Barack Obama posed for a photo as a senator in 2005 with Louis Farrakhan, the virulently anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam movement, and the photographer said he suppressed its publication at the request of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Trice Edney News Wire first published the photo on Jan. 20. It quotes the photographer, Askia Muhammad, saying that after snapping the picture at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, an unidentified member of the caucus asked him immediately not to run the photo.
Muhammad said he gave the disk containing the photo to Farrakhan’s chief of staff.
Jewish leaders have repeatedly denounced Farrakhan as an anti-Semite, noting his speeches accusing Jews of conspiring to control the government, the media and Hollywood.
An Obama spokesman responded to an inquiry on the photo from the website Talking Points Memo by directing the liberal news site to an interview Obama gave in 1995, when he was first running for the Illinois state Senate, and after he had attended Farrakhan’s Million Man March on Washington, D.C.
“What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society,” Obama told the Chicago Reader, describing his impressions of the march. “There was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives.”
But he continued: “But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We’ve got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We’ve got communities to build.”