On January 10, 2021, Nation of Islam (NOI) Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad provided the latest example in the group’s long history of virulent antisemitism. Muhammad delivered a two-hour sermon, broadcast live from NOI’s national headquarters in Chicago, in which he explicitly and repeatedly blamed Jews and Israel for the coronavirus pandemic. As of January 14, his sermon, titled “Beyond Tuskegee: Why Black People Must Not Take the Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine,” has been viewed more than 40,000 times.
In the sermon, Muhammad declared that the pandemic was sent to earth as punishment for the sins of Jews. He also offered a second and, at times contradictory conspiracy theory, in which he claimed that Israel manipulated the virus to afflict others. While other NOI leaders have not hesitated to implicate Jews in their conspiracies about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine, Wesley Muhammad delivered NOI’s most scathing, blatantly antisemitic explanation yet of why Jews and Israel are allegedly to blame for the global pandemic.
In a highly publicized, antisemitic speech on July 4 of last year, NOI leader Louis Farrakhan previewed what would become the focal point of Muhammad’s theory about the coronavirus, describing the pandemic as “a pestilence from God.” In his sermon over the weekend, Muhammad expanded on this notion of the coronavirus pandemic as a “pestilence” and claimed that it was brought on by Jews, specifically.
Accusing Jews of causing the pandemic, Muhammad blamed Jews for the deaths of millions of people worldwide. “It was the Jews—the Jewish sin of altering the word of God—that brought this pandemic down from heaven,” he said. “Every time they take [Farrakhan’s words] out of place, every time they distort it, every time they misrepresent what the Honorable Brother Minister has said, they are guilty of this particular sin,” Muhammad continued.
Early coronavirus outbreaks in Jewish communities in New York state, Muhammad said, is evidence that the Jews caused this “pestilence.”
“If the Jews are the catalysts,” he explained, “one would think that the Jews were the first recipients, the first victims. And you would be right. We’ve documented the first area codes that were devastated by coronavirus in America were Jewish area codes…This pestilence from heaven was called down by the sins of Israel. And the first to be devastated by the virus were the Jews of the diaspora.”
Muhammad also provided an alternative, apparently inconsistent conspiracy theory about the origins of the coronavirus, suggesting that Israel manufactured the virus and then intentionally released it on its enemies. In this portion of the sermon, he described the coronavirus as a “Zio-Anglo-American operation,” and characterized it not only as a “pestilence from heaven,” but a “pestilence from heaven that came through the laboratory of Satan.” He claimed that the Israel Institute for Biological Research, which has led the country’s research efforts in response to the pandemic, changed the original virus strain that emerged in Wuhan to make it “more transmissible, more contagious, and more deadly,” so that Iran, “Israel’s great nemesis,” was “the first place to be victimized by the mutated virus.”
Muhammad contended that Israel’s early successes fighting the virus were evidence Israel had inside knowledge. “The State of Israel had this spectrum of totally effective therapies against this virus that was tearing through the earth, that no one saw before, no one had defenses for, except someone did,” he said.
The sermon also included familiar NOI rhetoric warning against the coronavirus vaccine, including the claim that it is part of a depopulation plot targeting Black people. “The people and the institutions that are responsible for the COVID-19 vaccine are the very same people and institutions who have their fingerprints all over the COVID-19 virus,” Muhammad said. “The white man is a scientist, and the negro is his science project,” he added. To protect against the threat of coronavirus, Muhammad urged listeners to adhere to Farrakhan’s instructions, rather than that of so-called “health gurus.”