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Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan says his fight with prostate cancer has left him a changed man -- one who is preaching unity among all races and religions.

A smiling, fit-looking Farrakhan made his first public appearance in months Wednesday to address reporters and 200 supporters at the Nation of Islam mosque on Chicago's South Side.

The man accused of making anti-white and anti-Semitic remarks called for all people to unite on Christmas Day to pray for world peace.

He said he'd come to realize the importance of such a message after what he called a "near-death experience" in March caused by a radiation-related rectal ulcer.

"There is no way that I could come out of that experience without making a complete commitment not just to my people whom I love and would give my life for," said Farrakhan, 66. "But I will spend the rest of my days working to uplift a lost and fallen humanity, regardless of their color, their race or their creed."

Farrakhan said recent floods in South America and hurricanes in this country -- as well as terrorist bombings and school shootings -- are signs from God that disaster is looming. But he also preached a message of hope, saying mankind has the power to avoid biblical prophecy.

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