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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 00:55 GMT 01:55 UK
Muslim anger at Prophet slur
Muslim men pray during a recent march in New York
Falwell has caused offence at home and abroad
Iran has added its voice to growing protests over a conservative Christian evangelist in the United States who has described the Prophet Mohammed as a "terrorist".


On the issue of bigotry, silence equals consent

Council on American-Islamic relations
The Reverend Jerry Falwell, a leading member of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a US television interview that Mohammed was a violent man and a man of war.

"This insult to the holy Prophet Mohammed by a Christian priest is part of a propaganda war by the US mass media and the Zionists," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said.

Mr Falwell has also been denounced by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Muslim groups in the US who urged mainstream American leaders not to remain silent.

The interview with Mr Falwell was shown on CBS television's "60 Minutes" programme.

Inflammatory

Jerry Falwell
Falwell: No stranger to controversy
"I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough...by both Muslims and non-Muslims (to decide) he was a violent man, a man of war," Mr Falwell said.

"In my opinion, Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and I think Mohammed set an opposite example."

Mr Falwell is well-known for his inflammatory statements.

Last year, he was widely criticised for saying pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and civil liberties groups had contributed to the moral decay of the United States, angering God who allowed the 11 September attacks to happen.

He later apologised.

A Muslim prays in Atlanta Georgia
There are between two and six million Muslims in the US
Other conservative Christian leaders have also made controversial remarks about Islam in the past year, including TV evangelist Pat Robertson who labelled it a religion that sought to control, dominate or destroy others.

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said: "Anybody is free to be a bigot if they want to. What concerns us is the lack of reaction by mainstream religious and political leaders who say nothing when these bigots voice these attacks."

'Ignorant'

Speaking in Tehran, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi urged Islamic nations not to remain silent in the face of "such unashamed accusations".

They must not, he said, permit "the clash of religions and civilisations sought by the expansionist and aggressive Zionists".

In Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said only an ignorant person would make such a remark and he urged Muslims not to take the matter too seriously.

"I'm not going to accuse all Christians, only one person made such a statement."

See also:

01 Oct 02 | Americas
05 Sep 02 | Americas
31 Aug 02 | Americas
12 Aug 02 | Islamic world
23 Jul 02 | Americas
26 Jun 02 | Americas
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