NEW YORK – Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Wednesday lambasted the U.N., the U.S., and the "coalition of demons" that he said makes up NATO, accusing them of trying to assassinate Moammar Gadhafi and promote regime change in Libya.
Farrakhan said the United Nations and its 15-member Security Council, who he referred to as "the terror council," have no legitimate right to exist for passing the resolution that has allowed NATO to take military action in Libya.
The Chicago-based Muslim clergyman, addressing a news conference a block from the U.N., defended his "brother leader Gadhafi" and praised his leadership of the North African country for more than four decades.
Farrakhan also encouraged Gadhafi to resist pressure for him to step aside.
"What has Moammar Gadhafi done to deserve what this united coalition of demons is putting on him?" Farrakhan said to murmurs of approval from his supporters. "They say he has lost the moral right (to rule) because he has killed his own people. But you have never proved that charge. Check the record."
A Libyan diplomat who was among more than a dozen based at the U.N. who disavowed Gadhafi's government earlier this year took issue with Farrakhan's characterization of the leader as blameless. He said Libyan forces had indeed killed unarmed protesters.
"He didn't talk about how Gadhafi's forces were shooting at the people," said Dia A. Alhutmany, a second secretary who still works at the Libyan mission, but now on the rebels' side.
"He made Gadhafi out to be an angel," added Alhutmany, who quietly attended the Farrakhan news conference.
The Security Council on March 17 voted 10-0 with five abstentions to approve the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya and authorize "all necessary measures," a phrase commonly associated with force, "to protect civilians and civil-populated areas under threat of attack."
Swept up by political changes across the Arab world, Libya's opposition began holding large peaceful demonstrations earlier this year. But they took up arms when their chants for change were answered by government gunfire.
The council in late February voted unanimously to condemn the violence against civilians and slapped an arms embargo, and travel and economic sanctions on Gadhafi and some of his relatives and other close associates.
China and Russia, both veto-wielding permanent members, joined the initial condemnation. But they were among countries abstaining when military action was authorized several weeks later.
Farrakhan said if only China or Russia had vetoed "none of this would have happened."
"Has the West promised you some of what they plan to steal from Libya?" he asked of the two countries, suggesting that the developed world is interested in the country's oil as part of a plan to "recolonize Africa."
Farrakhan said Russia and China could still redeem themselves by bringing the matter back to the Security Council to halt the NATO action.
The 78-year-old minister didn't spare President Obama, who he said is "surrounded by people who are Zionist-controlled or Zionist." He also criticized what he called the "arrogance" of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for "telling Africans what to do with Africa" when she met with regional leaders this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and urged Gadhafi's few remaining allies to sever ties with him.
Farrakhan said officials of the U.S., with its high rate of crime and poverty, had no right to judge whether Libya adheres to humanitarian principles.
The United States and other Security Council members have defended their military involvement in Libya as necessary to prevent Gadhafi from slaughtering civilians. Obama has ruled out directly targeting Gadhafi and the U.S. has turned control of the military operation over to NATO.
Farrakhan earlier this year portrayed Gadhafi as a fellow revolutionary who has lent millions of dollars to the Nation of Islam over the years.
The group used $3 million it borrowed from Libya in the 1970s to acquire its opulent headquarters on Chicago's South Side. A $5 million loan was used years later to pay back taxes and costs for the home of the movement's former leader Elijah Muhammad.