Rodney Muhammad, the head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, is under pressure to resign from local and state officials in the organization after he posted an anti-Semitic meme to his public Facebook page, according to a report in The Philadelphia Tribune.
The meme Muhammad posted featured a caricature called “The Happy Merchant.” The image dates to at least 2001 and exploded in popularity in 2016 among fringe far-right Internet communities. Hate experts consider it an unequivocal symbol of Jew hatred on the internet.
Muhammad has not apologized for posting the meme, saying instead that he did not know it was anti-Semitic and said he regretted the “insult, pain and offense it caused to all particularly those of the Jewish community by this unfortunate episode.”
The national NAACP has said it plans to “meet with community leaders and faith leaders to open a dialogue” and to also launch “national conversations to further understanding.”
But the Tribune reported, based on an unnamed source within Pennsylvania’s state NAACP conference, that the national NAACP is not behind Muhammad.
Jewish groups in Philadelphia have already called for Muhammad to be fired.
“The longer he [Muhammad] stays without addressing these issues, the worse off we’re going to be,” said Bishop J. Louis Felton, first vice president of the Philadelphia NAACP branch.
Muhammad can only be removed from his elected position by city NAACP officials, though the national organization can suspend him. Members of the state NAACP conference are considering removing him from a state-wide executive committee.
Muhammad has served in his role since 2014, and faces reelection for another two-year term as head of the city NAACP group in November.
Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman