November 10, 1995
Press Conference to Announce the Opening of the Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed Office of Public Relations
Charlotte, North Carolina Adams Mark Hotel
Imam E. Abdulmalik Mohammed:
Peace be on you. Thank you very much for being here for this press conference to announce the opening of the Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed Office of Public Relations. At this time we will hear from Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Spokesman for Human Salvation.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed:
Thank you. God is Greater. Peace be on you. We are very thankful to God for this opportunity here to meet on this day, the second day really, of the opening of our public relations office, the Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed Public Relations Office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We think that it is a very special opportunity to have our office here in this city where the atmosphere is peaceful. I met personally with the Honorable Mayor Richard Vinroot and I just opened my heart to him and opened my mind to him and let him know exactly what we are all about. I was really gratified to see that he appreciated what our interest is, and what we want for our life and our children's lives and for our future here as a Muslim community in these United States.
I also became acquainted again with Charlotte City Councilman Nasif Majeed who works with the city leadership here and has enthusiasm for working in this great city. And I am very much encouraged by the reception that we got here in Charlotte. I'm still excited about our future here, the possibilities for us. Not to increase our numbers so much, but the possibilities for us to increase our good works. That's what we are very much interested in.
We want an opportunity to live a good life and make a good contribution wherever we live. And I think Charlotte is a very excellent place for that.
We are very proud to have our office here represented by my personal assistant who has worked so closely with me, very closely with me, for several years now. And ever since he joined me I have been seeing nothing but good results especially for our image, the image of Muslims in America. I am speaking of, I'm sure you know who I am talking about, Imam Earl Abdulmalik Mohammed. He has done an excellent job of representing my office here in Charlotte and wherever he goes in these United States and abroad.
That's my statement. I'm honored that the press has given us an opportunity to say these words in their ears or in their presence.
Imam Mohammed, do you foresee opening other offices of public relations?
Yes we do. Our plan is to open several offices in the places we feel would give us the best situation for us us reach the public and get support for our interest.
Our interest is based in Islam. Our interest is a humanitarian interest. Our interest is to make the beat contribution we can make to not only the Muslim public, but to the genera! public. We hope that we can have offices in the South, the West, and eventually we hope in the suburbs of some big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
We prefer to have them in smaller towns because the smaller towns are not burdened like the big cities. The big cities are too burdened to pay any attention to what little fellows like us have to say about humanity.
Will there be publications associated with these offices?
Yes we have been desiring to have more newspapers. We have one excellent newspaper.
A newspaper is going to carry or at least reflect the mind, spirit, and thinking of those persons who put that newspaper together. I don't think one newspaper will ever serve our needs. We need several newspapers. We need different minds. We need more than one editor and more than one office and editorial staff to produce publications for us. We are thinking about a quarterly magazine. We are very near being able to do that. We are very close to being able to publish a quarterly magazine.
We have outgrown our resources by far. We have acceptance now throughout the United States. Not every body, but we are accepted well enough to feel comfortable to invest in our cities, in our offices, our publications, in our schools, our mosques, etc. I feel very comfortable and safe to invest. We have enough people in the establishment who appreciate what we are about, so we don't have to fear investing.
We need resources. We need money. The money is growing because the business mind of our people, of our following, is improving and we are attracting people of more experience and more education. This is all encouraging but we still don't have near the financial resources that we need in order to finance our development. We need money to finance our development. We are working on that. God-willing, we will see some real results soon.
In a couple of years we will see some real finances come to the community. Not from the outside, but from our wonderful producing people. We have producing people in our community now. I think within two years we are going to sec a substantial increase in funds that we will be able to use to finance our needs.
If you could reflect a little bit on the events of Monday (Million Man March) in Washington and what their meaning was and what good, if any, can come out of it?
IWDM: I was given an opportunity to speak on CNN. I appreciated it very much. I had the chance to reach the millions that were viewing the March.
My concern was that the March wouldn't give an occasion for extremists on the other side to start a riot by a sniper shooting one of the leaders or something like that. We thank God that that didn't happen, but in my opinion that was one of the things that should have been considered by the leaders when they decided to have a march. They should have considered the dangers.
Another concern of mine was that the March would be another festival of the soul, and not enough rational thought put into it, and not a strong enough rational message given by the March leaders. In my opinion, there was not a strong rational message given. The physical gestures and the kind of selfish interest that I saw, that each leader wanted to appear on TV and have his say. In my opinion, there was more emotionalism in it than reason. This is an inertia that has taken our people farther and farther into darkness. What I mean by darkness is away from common sense, practical business sense, common sense living.
The African-American people are very peculiar in a way, very unique. We are very unique in a real sense. We are a people who arc still trying to move away from a past that was very ugly and very painful - slavery and discrimination in this country. That seems to be the push, that seems to be the gush of wind that's at our back and we are running forward. We think we are leading ourselves but we are not. We are being pushed forward by that mighty gush of wind from the past. In my opinion, we can never see straight enough with that kind of force moving us.
We have to get charge of our life and have to think on the future. We have to make the future more important than the past. We have to make the future lives of our babies, our girls and our boys, more important than the past lives of the men and women who were enslaved in this country. We have to make the future more important. If we can make the future more important, then that gush of wind will begin to get weaker and weaker behind us and we will begin to walk on our own. That's what I hope will come.
I have a lot of criticism for the March. I don't have any faith in people coming together to demonstrate to the United States of America and to themselves on television that they are going to be responsible, that they are ready to accept responsibility for themselves.
The best demonstration is the one made at Tuskegee University. The best demonstration is the one that was made by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in his emphasis on good manners, decency, honesty, uprightness, and industry on the part of Black people. To me, all of that is positive, not to mention the negative things that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad brought along with those good, positive things; I'm ignoring those negative things.
To me, that's the best way to say to yourselves and to others that you are going to be responsible. When you have good homes. When you have good families and neighborhoods. When you are investing your money wisely. When you are putting some money aside for the future of your children so that they will be able to get a college education if they qualify for it. When you are saving some money to improve upon the life of your family and your children for the future, to me this is demonstrating responsibility.
When the leaders are working, putting our heads together, to see how we can change our rhetoric and make our rhetoric serve the needs of our people's emotional and rational needs better, to me, that's demonstrating responsibility.
1 think its demonstrating responsibility to call the leaders together before you announce that you are going to have a march. I was told just two weeks before the March to come and join them. I couldn't join them. In fact, I was hoping that they would have invited me much earlier. I wanted an opportunity to convince them that the March was a risky thing and not the right way to do it. Our presence in the cities would have done much more to show us and to show the nation that we are sincere. To get a big crowd in one spot, I don't know if the motivation was sincere or not.
I believe the March could have had more hundreds of thousands, perhaps several million, if the same effort had been made to mass numbers in the cities, and we address the conditions there. Pick a spot where the conditions are bad, where homes and everything are neglected, boarded up, businesses closed. Amass the Black people there and say, "Look at this," and preach there. It would have made much more sense to us. It would have made much more sense to this nation. That's my opinion.
What suggestions could you give the Muslim American community to move forward in spite of the confusion Farrakhan continues to promote about the truth of Islam?
I know Farrakhan personally. We were friends under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I know him very well. I know what he wanted to accomplish more than anything else. The money was number two. Farrakhan believes God talks to him, and that is what he wants more people to believe. If God is talking to him, I don't like what He is saying.
We can keep doing what we are doing and do more of it. We are doing the right things now. The leaders in my association should keep doing what you are doing, just do more of it. As that old song goes, "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don't keep messing with Mr. In-between." I changed it a little bit.
Does your Ministry have influence overseas or abroad?
We are a unique people, a very special people of the African American people who still hold to God and want our life to be under God. Believe me, most of the people, especially the leaders, of the Islamic world who come to know us appreciate us and they think that we have something special to offer. I don't want to say too much of their compliments.
We have those too that distrust us. They think we are too close to the government. They think I am a CIA agent. I don't know how they can think that. We have a few like that.
Those who are responsible, for instance, for Saudi Arabia's government all have a very strong interest in us. We have been invited there three times as a big delegation. We are on the way there again in late November. A large delegation of 15 will be going from the United States and most of them are from our association. Ten of them are from our association and the other five are those who work with us. We work together. We work with them and they work with us. They represent the Pakistani community and some other immigrant communities.
The answer to your question is a strong yes. Now how do we benefit from that kind of relationship? First, by caring more about our sincerity, our innocence, our purity as Muslims. Second, by being loyal to the good people of this nation where we live and are citizens. By being loyal to our fellow good citizens in America. Third, by looking for opportunities to better our condition here in America.
We shouldn't just seek a relationship abroad with any country without also being aware that there might be opportunity for us to benefit. They may have an educational system from which we might get some information if we study it. We might find something we can use for our Clara Muhammad School system. They might have also means of publishing books. We might be able to get them to accept to publish some books for us, or at least print them.
There are a lot of opportunities, even economic or financial opportunities. We arc told that very fine watches can be bought in Saudi Arabia at a very reasonable cost to the buyer. If we can get watches over there and give them to our business people at a big reduction in the cost, then that's a job for our business people. Not for me as the Imam, but for me as a businessman. Only as a businessman would I do that. We don't ever want to confuse the work for God with the work for the bank account.
There are other opportunities too. There are dates in Medina. I would like to see us import dates for one occasion, just for the Bids, for our holidays. If they love us so much and they say we are their brothers we should be able to get the dates for two cents a pound.
Would you care to expound on the recent announcement you will be having an audience with the Pope?
IWDM: Well, that's a hope. I should say its a prayer. I feel that it would be a very great symbolic message that we could send out to the world if I could have an audience with the Pope. And I would like to visit Rome and the Vatican. I've never seen them. If I would describe myself as a Protestant or a Catholic, I would have to say I'm too much Catholic to be a Protestant and too much Protestant to be a Catholic. I'm a Muslim.
I think a lot can be achieved as a gesture, as a symbolic message if I am given that opportunity to have an audience with His Holiness the Pope in the Vatican. So far, it looks like it is going to happen. I am told that Cardinal William Keeler is visiting the -Vatican right now and he is bringing that matter to the Vatican.
Thank you very much. God bless you. Peace be on you.