Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcast an interview with Christian fundamentalist Jerry Falwell, who told Bob Simon that Mohammed was a "terrorist." The interview appeared in a story about the Christian Right's unquestioning support for Israel.
"That's a completely hateful statement," said protest organizer Naeem Baig, speaking above the angry din of the protesters. "Mohammed was a prophet. He was a man of peace. There is no incident in history where he acted like a terrorist."
Many of the protesters held handwritten signs criticizing not only Falwell but CBS. "CBS The Purveyor Of Hate," read one; "Media Must Stop Spreading Hate Towards Muslims," said another.
According to Baig, who is director of the Islamic Circle Of North America, a prominent Muslim group, CBS should not have allowed itself to be a platform for anti-Muslim views, and should have at least provided an opportunity for a Muslim to rebut Falwell's statement. "CBS did not do justice," he said. "It is not responsible journalism when you invite someone to spread hate."
"The report on Sunday was fair and accurate and we stand by the story," said CBS News spokesperson Sandy Genelius.
Baig disagreed, saying that CBS showed a disregard for Islam that is typical of the media. Had Falwell criticized Jews or other Christians, the network would have allowed someone to respond, he said: "Since it's Islam, they think 'Don't worry about it, let it go.'"
"One of the most integral parts of a democracy is people's right to express themselves," 60 Minutes spokesman Kevin Tedesco said of the protest. "And we respect their right to do that."