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Muhammad Ali Funeral Speech By Rabbi Michael Lerner Slams Politicians Who Attack Muslims

'We know what it's like to be demeaned.'

10/06/2016 23:39

A thinly-veiled attack on Republican candidate Donald Trump and the persecution of Muslims received a standing ovation during Muhammad Ali's funeral on Friday.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, an American political activist, told the thousands who had gathered at Ali's funeral in Kentucky that American Jews will not "tolerate" anyone "putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people".

In the highly political speech, Rabbi Lerner said that he was speaking as a representative of American Jews.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rabbi Michael Lerner speaks during Muhammad Ali's memorial service.

The editor of the Jewish magazine Tikkun brought the crowd to its feet four times with his passionate speech.

He said: "We today stand in solidarity with the Islamic community, in this country and all around the world."

He added: "We will not tolerate politicians, or anyone else, putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people.

"We know what it's like to be demeaned.

"We know what it's like to have a few people who act against the highest visions of our traditions to then be identified as the value of the entire tradition."

His comments received a standing ovation, with loud cheers from those in attendance.

Rabbi Lerner also paid tribute to Ali and his "moral integrity".

He said: "The way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today.

"And that means us, everyone here and everyone listening, it's up to us to continue the ability to speak truth to power. We must speak out, refuse to follow the path of conformity and rule of the game in life. 

"We must refuse to follow the path of conformity."

Rabbi Lerner's comments were heavily praised on social media.

The rabbi also took aim at "racist police and racist judges", who he said imprison African Americans for offences that "white people get away with all the time".

He then had a message for the next US president, saying that "she" should seek a constitutional amendment on how election campaigns are funded.

His suggestion that the next president will be female - and therefore Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton - received rapturous applause and laughter from the crowd.

Former US president, Bill Clinton, was caught on camera smiling as he spoke to actor Billy Crystal during the ceremony.

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Bill Clinton (right) was caught on camera smiling as he spoke to actor Billy Crystal during the ceremony.

Louisville and the rest of the world said goodbye to The Greatest on Friday, showering affection on Ali during a fist-pumping funeral procession through the streets of his hometown, followed by a star-studded memorial service where he was saluted as an outspoken breaker of racial barriers.

An estimated 100,000 people holding signs and chanting, "Ali! Ali!" lined the streets as a hearse carrying his cherry-red casket made its way past his childhood home to Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery, where a private graveside service was held for the three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

The memorial service was held at a sports arena packed with celebrities, athletes and politicians, including Clinton, director Spike Lee, former NFL great Jim Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Beckham, Whoopi Goldberg and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
    The casket bearing the remains of Muhammad Ali is loaded into a hearse at the A D Porter & Sons funeral home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 10
  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
    The hearse (center, L) carrying the remains of Muhammad Ali leaves the A D Porter & Sons funeral home
  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
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    A crowd gathers outside the A D Porter & Sons funeral home for the procession to begin for three-time heavyweight boxing champion
  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
    Mourners gather outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home during the funeral procession
  • John Sommers II / Reuters
    Billy Roarx (L) and Bobby Green (R) wait for the hearse to drive by with the casket of the late Muhammad Ali down Muhammad Ali Boulevard to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
    Mourners hold signs outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home
  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
    A child holds a banner outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Billy Crystal attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Rashdea Ali-Walsh attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Former President Bill Clinton attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Lonnie Ali attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view) A portrait of Muhammed Ali is displayed at a makeshift shrine at the Muhammad Ali Center after the former champ was laid to rest on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Earlier in the day a funeral procession and memorial service gave the public an opportunity to honor world heavyweight boxing champion from Louisville. Ali died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Natasha Mundkur attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Bryant Gumbel attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Whoopi Goldberg attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Natasha Mundkur attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Ray Lewis attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Imam Zaid Shakir attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Will Smith attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Former President Bill Clinton attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Billy Crystal attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Will Smith attends Muhammad Ali's funeral procession June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Imam Zaid Shakir speaks as Rabbi Michael Lerner looks on at the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis attend the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: A general view during the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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