Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is scheduled to speak Friday at an annual conference of Mississippi civil rights veterans, drawing criticism for his past comments about Jews and Roman Catholics — both instrumental groups in the struggle for equality in the 1960s.

Farrakhan leads the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, which published two books last year on what Farrakhan calls the “anti-black behavior” of Jews.

A group of scholars and leaders of local businesses, churches and synagogues signed a statement Tuesday criticizing Farrakhan’s past statements on Roman Catholicism, Judaism and homosexuality.

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