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Nation of Islam denies Jacko link

A black religious group has denied reports that its members are advising Michael Jackson on how to handle his child molestation case.

Last Modified: 31 Dec 2003 12:09 GMT
The eccentric pop star is due to stand trial on 14 January

A black religious group has denied reports that its members are advising Michael Jackson on how to handle his child molestation case.

The Nation of Islam said on Tuesday it had "no official business or professional relationship with Mr Michael Jackson".

In a statement the group added: "The Nation of Islam joins thousands of other people in wishing him well."

Mark Geragos, the high-profile attorney employed by Jackson to help him fight the charges, also brushed off the allegations.

He said while Jackson did consult with Nation of Islam member Leonard Muhammad, he was just one of many informal advisers.

Newspaper allegations

"The idea that there is some takeover by the Nation of Islam -- someone is spinning you," he said.

"Nobody has told me what to do and what not to do. Leonard, I believe, is someone Michael consults with, just like in excess of 25 people."

"Nobody has told me what to do and what not to do. Leonard, I believe, is someone Michael consults with, just like in excess of 25 people"
 

Mark Geragos,
Michael Jackson's attorney

The denials follow a New York Times report that senior figures from the group had joined Jackson's inner circle, and were wielding considerable influence over his business affairs and legal strategy.

According to Jackson associates, Nation of Islam members were initially invited to the pop star's Neverland ranch in California to bolster his security detail.

But, according to the sources, they had progressed to negotiating media deals and advising him on his defence strategy in his upcoming criminal case.

'Brainwashing' 

"The Nation of Islam... have taken over completely and are in full and total charge," said one senior Jackson employee, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They have gone in and taken over control of the finances in terms of who's getting paid (and) how much."

"They're approving all funds and have decided they have control of the business manager and accountant, without signing authority or power of attorney... in essence, they're telling him what to do."

Meanwhile, one of Jackson's business associates said there were about a half-dozen Nation of Islam members around the singer constantly, either at Neverland or in Los Angeles.

"These people are basically brainwashing him," said the associate, who is also a friend of Jackson's.

Conversion? 

"They tried to do the same thing to Whitney Houston. They offer a false sense that they can control everything. Everyone is scared of them. They pretty much keep Michael semi-captive."

"These people are basically brainwashing him... They tried to do the same thing to Whitney Houston. They offer a false sense that they can control everything. Everyone is scared of them. They pretty much keep Michael semi-captive"

Friend of Jackson quoted by the New York Times

Another Jackson employee added: "They're negotiating business deals with him. They're negotiating media deals, who can talk, how much. You've got a lawyer who's scared to throw them out. Michael doesn't know what to do with them."  

Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that Jackson had joined the group, which is regarded by mainstream Muslims as heretical because of its alleged racism and deviant theology.  

Other reports said Jackson's brother, Jermaine Jackson, had brought Leonard Muhammad into Jackson's inner circle as a "bodyguard".

Jermaine Jackson, another ex-member of the Jackson Five group, converted to Islam in 1989 but is not a follower of Farrakhan.

Source:
AFP
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