Nation of Islam in Monroe defending its leader against controversy

MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Nation of Islam is labeled a 'hate group' because of wildly divisive and dangerous rhetoric. That rhetoric is why many people in Monroe say Louis Farrakhan shouldn't have gotten the key to the city.

However, members of the Monroe Study Group disagree.

"Our work is not a hateful work. Our work is honorable work. We have an honorable man that we follow, the honorable Minister Farrakhan," said Verbon Muhammad Sr., Farrakhan's local representative.

The group mostly talked about their volunteer work in the community and their respect and love for Farrakhan.

However, the SPLC says the nation teaches a theology of innate black superiority over whites.

Reporter "We heard him (Farrakhan) attach evil to white people, is that love?"

"It depends on where you got that from that was taken out of context, I didn't hear anything about Minister Farrakhan talking about evil," Muhammad said.

The members say they've been fighting against the term 'hate group' for years.

"We have a way to defend what you're asking us about, but this isn't the forum to talk about that at," Muhammad said.

They say it's not personal, just protocol.

"It's all about self-help. The nation of Islam teaches people about taking care of themselves first. You can't help someone else first until you help yourself," said T.J. Stevenson, member of the group, said.

The local Nation of Islam group also says they do not teach violence. Therefore they refuse to be called a 'hate group.'