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Guyana Frees Detained Nation of Islam Official

Without any explanation, the Guyanese government released an official of the black separatist Nation of Islam (NOI) late Friday, a day after detaining him for questioning about alleged ties to terrorism and drug trafficking. Akbar Muhammad, describing the accusations as “insane,” immediately asked for an official government apology.

Muhammad, who is the NOI’s international representative, also told The Associated Press that he was in Guyana to do humanitarian work and to talk to children about drugs and education. And he said that the NOI leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, had spoken to Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo, shortly before his release.

Muhammad said he had been the victim of a “smear campaign.” Guyanese officials never detailed the matters they were supposedly asking Muhammad about.

Muhammad’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes, said his client arrived early last week in Guyana and had appeared before his detention on two programs on a television network run by the government’s political opposition. National elections are scheduled for this August in Guyana, a country that the U.S. State Department has described as being marked by distrust between the Indian-dominated ruling party and the black-supported opposition, the AP reported.

Hughes said the government had presented no evidence of terrorist activities by Muhammad, 69, who has been a top Farrakhan aide since 1965. Hughes said the detention had been “an act of considerable malice by police.”

The Nation of Islam, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, does not have a record of drug or terrorism offenses. But it does embrace a theology that describes white people as intrinsically evil, and it has verbally attacked Jews and gays and lesbians for years. On March 31, Farrakhan, reacting to President Obama’s military actions against NOI ally Libya, predicted that the end of the world was nearing and giant spaceships would soon arrive to spirit black people away to safety and then destroy the whites and others remaining on the planet.

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