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Ailing Farrakhan calls for religious harmony

Story Highlights

• NEW: 73-year-old Farrakhan called for Christian-Muslim unity in speech
• He's suffering from ulcer and infection related to prostate cancer treatment
• "America has begun to reap what it has sown," he said.
• Farrakhan spoke at a Nation of Islam event
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DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -- Ailing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan delivered Sunday what was billed as his last public address, calling for Christian-Muslim unity ahead of what he predicted will be apocalyptic times.

"I have set before you this day two signs -- one of life, one of death," Farrakhan told followers on the eve of "Saviours' Day," the birthday of Nation of Islam founder Fard Mohammed.

"Choose life that you and your seed may live. Thank you, Allah, for allowing me to finish my lecture."

Farrakhan, 73, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the 1990s. He underwent surgery in 2000 to remove an intestinal ulcer stemming from his treatment, and announced last September that doctors had discovered a similar ulcer, along with "serious infection and inflammation."

That month, Farrakhan turned over control of the organization to an executive board.

His two-hour speech in Detroit marked his first public appearance in seven months, and the Nation of Islam said it could be his last.

In it, he railed against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which he blamed for the sectarian warfare between Sunni and Shiite Muslims there. Islam's founder, the prophet Mohammed, "is grieving," Farrakhan said.

"America has begun to reap what it has sown, and it is George W. Bush who is bringing it to a head," Farrakhan said.

And he warned that the world faces a "chastisement of God," after which, "we'll all want to be one again."

Long criticized for his inflammatory comments about Jews, his 1984 remark that Hitler was "wickedly great" and his association with anti-American leaders like Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Cuba's Fidel Castro, Farrakhan has dialed back his rhetoric in recent years.

In 1995, he organized a "Million Man March" in Washington to urge African-American men to take responsibility for improving themselves, their families, and communities. And in 2000, he expressed regret that his writings may have influenced the killers of former black Muslim leader Malcolm X.

Sunday, he said Jesus and Mohammed "are brothers who come from the same eternal God."

"How dare us try to split up the prophets and make them enemies of each other to justify our being enemies," he said.

"If Jesus and Mohammed were on this stage, they would embrace each other with love. If Moses and the prophets and Abraham the father would be on this podium with all the prophets, they would embrace each other."


Minister Louis Farrakhan addresses the Saviours' Day gathering in Detroit Sunday. It was supposed to be the ailing Nation of Islam figure's last speech.

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