A San Diego-area mosque is demanding an apology from the Southern Poverty Law Center for including them in a list of hate groups.
Members of Muhammad Mosque No. 8 gathered on the steps of the county courthouse in downtown San Diego Thursday because they believe the civil rights group unfairly slandered their organization by associating them with groups like the KKK.
“We carry no weapons, nor do we instigate violence towards anyone,” said Hugh Muhammad, a student minister at the mosque. “We challenge you to present to us one instance where I or a member of our mosque or any follower have ever perpetrated violence against white people, or blacks, or any people."
In February, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual map showing hate groups across the country using publications, law enforcement reports, and field sources as criteria.
The center defines the Nation of Islam as black separatists but gives no specific examples of hate perpetrated by the mosque.
“To slander them, to talk about them, to bold-faced lie about them is like lying and slandering me and everybody in our community,” said San Diego resident Armand King.
The mosque said they work on encouraging the black and Latino communities of San Diego and have never been associated with terror or hate.
Laila Aziz said Nation of Islam works with children through youth groups and helps employ members of the community.
“That’s not hate,” Aziz said.
NBC 7 contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center for their response.
A spokesperson sent us this statement from Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC's Intelligence Project:
“The Nation of Islam has been included on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups every year since 1998. We remain concerned about the views espoused by Nation of Islam and Farrakhan’s negative, hateful speech about other Americans. The Nation of Islam is a black separatist group whose basic foundation is that that [sic] all whites are blue-eyed devils and that Jews ran the slave trade.
The SPLC is aware of the community service programs that the Nation of Islam has implemented, but these programs are done under the umbrella of an organization whose mission is separatist and anti-Semitic, and who often uses these programs to espouse these ideas to potential members and each other. Any chapter who continues to link themselves with the Nation of Islam organization is choosing to support its ideas and agenda, including San Diego’s Mosque 8."