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Showbiz pals rally around Jackson
King of Pop Michael Jackson has been lying low in a luxury Las Vegas resort even as his family and singer friends defended him against the child molestation charges.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2003 11:09 GMT
Jackson has retreated to a plush hotel to escape the media glare
King of Pop Michael Jackson has been lying low in a luxury Las Vegas resort even as his family and singer friends defended him against the child molestation charges.

The wider African American community in the US on Friday also joined in the debate and accused the authorities of targeting Jackson because of the colour of his skin.

However, no reactions were forthcoming from close friends like Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minelli.

The superstar was closeted in the Green Valley Resort near Las Vegas, where he flew in a private jet after being booked in Santa Barbara, California.

Jackson's mother, Catherine, told the online version of Germany's Bunte magazine that there were two interpretations of the law in the United States - "one for whites and one for blacks".

She claimed that the charges against her son were false. "He's not worried because he's innocent. He is very strong," she added.

Call for restraint

US civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson called for restraint, saying the singer deserved a trial in court, not in the media, and expressed "grave concerns" over prosecutors' handling of the case.
  
"Michael deserves due process, the newsrooms should remain
objective and the global community must not hasten to judgement," he said,
branding the raid by up to 70 investigators on Jackson's Neverland Ranch "overkill".

Singer Rick James, a friend of Jackson's since their Motown recording days, was blunt about what he saw as prosecutor Tom Sneddon's motives in pursuing Jackson on child abuse charges for the second time in 10 years. 
   

Amusement park type rides inside
Jackson's Neverland ranch

"He's black, rich and famous, and they have nothing better to do," he said of the charges Sneddon filed against Jackson. "As soon as you get famous and black, they go after you," he told CNN.

Rapper P Diddy and rhythm-and-blues star Alicia Keys also spoke up for Jackson, accusing the media of hounding the embattled King of Pop.
  
"I feel offended the way the media is handling a man who really has been a major force in American culture since the day he was born,
virtually," Keys told reporters.

"I really think that he deserves more respect."
  
"Michael Jackson has been a positive influence in my life. The way the media is stalking him, I think it's wrong," P Diddy said.

Taylor stays mum

But Hollywood and two of Jackson's best friends, diva Liza Minelli and screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, both of whom have staunchly supported him through many of his public trials in the past, were mum.

"No comment," said a spokeswoman for Minelli when asked to react to the arrest of Jackson, who was best man at her doomed wedding to David Gest last year. "She won't be releasing a comment," she said.
  
Taylor's spokeswoman, Sally Morrison, was equally adamant that the star had nothing to say about her friend's dramatic fall from grace.

"No comment. No."

Source:
AFP
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