October 03, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) - The Rev. Jerry Falwell says ``I think Muhammad was a terrorist'' in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on the CBS program ``60 Minutes.''

The conservative Baptist minister tells correspondent Bob Simon he has concluded from reading Muslim and non-Muslim writers that Islam's prophet ``was a - a violent man, a man of war.''

``Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses,'' Falwell says. ``I think Muhammad set an opposite example.''

CBS released a partial transcript of the interview Thursday. Falwell's comments occur in a segment about American conservative Christians' political support for Israel. A Falwell spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Other conservative Protestant clergy have made sharply critical remarks about Islam and Muhammad in the past year. They include Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son and successor, TV evangelist Pat Robertson and leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. In response to Falwell's remarks, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relation in Washington, said: ``Anybody is free to be a bigot if they want to. What really concerns us is the lack of reaction by mainstream religious and political leaders, who say nothing when these bigots voice these attacks.'' Hooper noted that Falwell and Robertson will speak at next week's Christian Coalition convention in Washington alongside House Majority Whip Tom DeLay and other politicians.

``How can these elected representatives legitimize this kind of hate speech by appearing on the same platform with Islamophobes and Muslim-bashers?'' Hooper asked.

Falwell was widely criticized last year after he said on Robertson's TV show that pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals and civil liberties groups had secularized the nation and helped the Sept. 11 attacks happen. Falwell later apologized.

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