Resignation calls grow in wake of Philadelphia NAACP head’s anti-Semitic post
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Resignation calls grow in wake of Philadelphia NAACP head’s anti-Semitic post

Pennsylvania’s governor and attorney general join those demanding that Rodney Muhammad step down for sharing on social media images used by white supremacists

Minister Rodney Muhammad speaks to the crowd during a rally, outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, July 20, 2013. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP)
Minister Rodney Muhammad speaks to the crowd during a rally, outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, July 20, 2013. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP)

Pennsylvania’s governor and attorney general joined the growing number of calls Tuesday for Philadelphia’s NAACP president to resign after he posted an anti-Semitic meme to social media last week.

Philadelphia’s Jewish leaders also expressed outrage over the post and called for Rodney Muhammad’s resignation throughout the weekend. Several city leaders urged him to apologize, while others said it called his leadership into question during a time when the organization’s mission is vital.

Muhammad said in a statement late Monday that he removed the post when he was told the images had previously been distributed by white supremacists.

“I later learned that not only was the quote I used misattributed to the philosopher Francois Voltaire, but in fact, the quote and image had been used previously by white supremacists,” he wrote. “I immediately removed both the quote and the offensive images. It was never my intention to offend anyone or cause any hurt.”

A voicemail for the national spokesman of the NAACP was full Tuesday when The Associated Press tried to contact the organization for comment. A number for Muhammad was not answered Tuesday.

This post by the head of Philadelphia’s NAACP chapter has drawn calls for him to step down. (Facebook)

The Thursday post on Muhammad’s Facebook page included photos of Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, Black celebrities who recently posted anti-Semitic comments on social media, and the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” falsely attributed to French philosopher Voltaire. The quote originated with Kevin Strom, an American neo-Nazi. (Jackson and Cannon have both apologized.)

Below their photos is an image of a yarmulke-wearing man, using his hand to crush a group of people. The meme, known as “the Happy Merchant,” is an anti-Semitic image used by extremists that the Anti-Defamation League says is commonly used by white supremacists.

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia issued a statement Friday calling for the NAACP to remove Muhammad. The group issued a second statement Tuesday calling Muhammad’s reasoning unacceptable.

“Mr. Muhammad’s statement regarding his anti-Semitic Facebook post is utterly insufficient. Given the chance to apologize for his actions, he declined to do so,” the group wrote in the statement.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at Muhlenberg High School in Reading, Pennsylvania, Nov. 26, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP)

In messages on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, both Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro called for Muhammad’s resignation. Shapiro said he had reached out to Muhammad before making his public statement.

“His response to me was offensive and we are all still waiting for that apology,” Shapiro posted to Twitter before calling for Muhammad to step down.

Muhammad, 68, is a civil rights figure and local Nation of Islam leader. He often praises Louis Farrakhan, who has called Jews “bloodsuckers” and “termites,” the news website Billy Penn reported. He had previously posted criticism of the backlash that Cannon, Jackson, and others have faced after posting anti-Semitic content on social media.

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