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Malcolm X Suspended by Nation of Islam over JFK Remarks

Dec. 4, 1963 - Malcolm X, national spokesman for the Black Muslim movement, was suspended today by the Nation of Islam because of a speech in which he mocked the assassination of President Kennedy. The action was taken by the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, who said Mr. X’s remarks were an inaccurate reflection of Muslim attitudes. “With the rest of the world,” he declared, “we are very shocked at the assassination of our President.” In a speech last Sunday at Manhattan Center, Mr. X said Mr. Kennedy’s death was a case of “the chickens coming home to roost.” Amid laughter and applause from his followers in the audience, he added: “Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” Today, Mr. X seemed contrite. “I shouldn’t have said what I said,” he conceded. “Anything that Mr. Muhammad does is all right with me. I believe absolutely in his wisdom and his authority.” Mr. X, the New York and Washington leader of the movement, has been generally regarded as its second most powerful figure. It is he who is most often quoted in accounts of Muslim activities. In fact, many of his disciples have said recently that he is exerting more influence than Mr. Muhammad himself. There have also been reports of a rivalry between Mr. X and Mr. Muhammad’s son-in-law, Raymond Sharrieff, who commands the karate-trained security force known as the Fruit of Islam. Both men, it is said, are eager to succeed the ruler. Today, Mr. Muhammad declined to discuss the possibility of dissension within the movement. “Malcolm is still a minister,” said the man who calls himself the Messenger of Allah, “but he will not be permitted to speak in public. I have rebuked him because he has not followed the way of Islam.” Asked when the suspension might be lifted, Mr. Muhammad replied: “I would not say. I will decide.”


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