Jacko: building mosque, trashing Jews

jerusalem | His ex-wife says his children are Jewish, his legal opponents allege he confabulated a drink called Jesus Juice, and now some Middle East media outlets are reporting that pop star Michael Jackson is building a mosque.

According to a front page story in the Nov. 25 issue of the Bahrain Tribune, the famed singer and “moonwalker” has pledged an undisclosed sum to build a “state of the art” mosque, which will stand as an expression of gratitude to the small Gulf state that has served as Jackson’s home since his acquittal in June on child molestation charges in a California courtroom.

The donation marked the end of a characteristically outrageous week for the singer, whose anti-Semitic message on a former adviser’s voicemail system was broadcast on the news program “Good Morning America.” In the message, the former child star called Jews “leeches” and suggested he was the victim of a Jewish “conspiracy” targeting him because of his status as “the most popular person in the world.” “The Jews do it on purpose,” Jackson said in the message, which was released to ABC News by Dieter Wiesner, a former adviser now suing the singer for $64 million.

Neither Jackson nor his representatives could be reached for comment about the new mosque, though a spokesman was quoted in the Bahrain Tribune as saying the structure was intended as “a token of appreciation to the Bahraini people, who welcomed [Jackson] and treated him as if he was one of the citizens of their country.”

Rumors about Jackson’s plans in Bahrain have swirled since the singer arrived in the small Persian Gulf state five months ago as the guest of the royal family. The extended visit followed Jackson’s highly publicized trial on 10 counts of child molestation — the second time he has faced such charges. Jackson’s teenage accuser told jurors that the pop icon had encouraged him to drink a beverage he called Jesus Juice — red wine the singer allegedly served in cans of soda.

The musician’s decision to build the mosque, which was also reported in Iran, wouldn’t be the first time the singer has explored religions outside of his Christian upbringing. Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s older brother, converted to Islam following a 1989 trip to Saudi Arabia and is said to have introduced his younger sibling to the Nation of Islam following the disappointing commercial response to Michael’s 2001 album “Invincible.” Though “Invincible” went double-platinum in the United States and sold six million copies worldwide, its sales paled in comparison to the 29 million copies sold to date of Thriller, Jackson’s landmark 1982 release.

Reports of a growing relationship between Jackson and the Nation of Islam led to an official denial by the organization the following year, which released a statement saying it had “no official business or professional relationship” with the singer, though the group added that it “join[ed] thousands of other people in wishing him well.”

The Nation of Islam rumors also appeared to displease Debbie Rowe, Jackson’s ex-wife and the mother of Prince and Paris, the singer’s older two children. Reported ties between Jackson and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — who once referred to Judaism as a “gutter religion” — prompted the reclusive Rowe to publicize her own Jewish background and desire that her children not become involved with the group.