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Nation of Islam leader humiliated in Guyana

BERT WILKINSON Special to AmNews | 5/27/2011, 1:23 p.m.

An international leader of the Nation of Islam who came to Guy- ana for a series of speaking engage- ments last week will never forget the welcome he received at the hands of local police. Authorities roused him from his hotel bed early Thursday, dumped him in a filthy police station cell with common criminals on trumped-up allega- tions of international terrorism and drug trafficking, and then let him go without a charge or simple apology.

Hampton, Va.,-born Akbar Mu- hammad, 69, was released late Fri- day after a day and a half under the "care" of local police, convinced that his arrest-following the instructions of the Hindu-led Bharrat Jagdeo administration-had more to do with his links to the Afro op- position than flimsy allegations of terrorism and drug trafficking.

"I have preached against drugs all my life as a Nation of Islam member," Muhammad told the AmNews shortly after his release, as he demanded an apology for the global humiliation he suffered

at the hands of local authorities on his fifth visit to the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation in the past 30 years. He said he was very "embarrassed that my 10 children and 14 grandchildren had to read these things about me in the international media."

"I don't want them to issue [an apology] in a corner, because this arrow has already left the bow. You can't call it back, but you can put out an apology-that the government of Guyana apologizes to Akbar Mu- hammad and the two brothers because we received some erroneous information and we found out that Akbar Muhammad is not a terrorist or a drug dealer," he said, speaking outside police headquarters.

His release might have had something to do with an international telephone call from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to President Jagdeo, during which Farrakhan vouched for the character of Muhammad, with whom he has been associated for the past 46 years.

Muhammad said that not a single police officer had asked him anything about terrorism or drug trafficking, preferring to concentrate their line of questioning on the plans he had in Guyana and who he was meeting while there. At the same time, police downloaded information from his notebook computer, which he called "an invasion of privacy" through attorney Nigel Hughes.

Local police, including Assistant Commissioner Seelall Persaud, had said that they had received information from the CIA about his links to terrorism and trafficking, hence his arrest. However, the U.S. mission in Guyana promptly threw egg in the face of the authorities, denying in a brief statement this week that it had asked authorities to arrest or question Muhammad in any form or fashion. National Security Minister Clement Rohee has said that "no apology is forthcoming."

Muhammad returned to the United States after nearly a week in Guyana, during which he hosted two television call-in programs and was due to meet with youth groups on scheduled speaking engagements.