In the face of protests around the world, the Rev. Jerry Falwell has issued an official apology for comments he made about the prophet Muhammad during an Oct. 6 interview on the CBS news program 60 Minutes.
In the interview, the conservative Baptist minister said, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and - non-Muslims, (to know) that he was a – a violent man, a man of war."
He also said, "Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. I think Muhammad set an opposite example."
In his statement over the weekend, Falwell said, "I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims. I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim."
He claimed he made a mistake while responding to a "controversial and loaded question" at the end of an hourlong interview.
The fallout from his remarks on 60 Minutes was severe. At least five people were killed and nearly 50 people injured Friday when Hindu-Muslim rioting broke out at a protest in Sholapur, 225 miles south of Bombay.
Shiite Muslim clerics in Lebanon and Iran reacted with rage to Falwell's remarks, and an envoy of Iran's supreme leader called for his death.
Iranian cleric Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari, addressing weekly Friday prayers in the northwestern town of Tabriz, said the Rev. Jerry Falwell was a "mercenary and must be killed," the Farsi-language daily Abrar reported Saturday.
Also, hundreds of Muslim protesters gathered twice outside the CBS Broadcast Center in New York - on Oct. 8 and Oct. 13 - to demand an apology from the media.
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