Spiritual leaders of New York's African-American Muslim communities lashed out Friday at a purported al Qaeda message attacking President-elect Barack Obama and, using racist language, comparing him unfavorably to the late Malcolm X.
The imams called the recorded comments from al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri "an insult" from people who have "historically been disconnected from the African-American community generally and Muslim African-Americans in particular."
"We find it insulting when anyone speaks for our community instead of giving us the dignity and the honor of speaking for ourselves," they said in a statement read during a news conference at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Educational and Cultural Center.
The al Qaeda statement, an 11-minute, 23-second audio message in Arabic with subtitles in English, appeared on the Internet on Wednesday. Its authenticity has not been confirmed.
The message said Obama represents the "direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X.