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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
Falwell 'sorry' for Mohammed remark
A cyclist rides past a burning stall in the Indian city of Solapur
Falwell's remarks sparked riots in India
The Reverend Jerry Falwell, the conservative American Baptist preacher, has apologised for calling the Prophet Mohammed a "terrorist".

His original remarks, broadcast last week on the US television programme 60 Minutes, sparked outrage among many Muslims around the world and set off sectarian riots in India that left at least eight dead.

I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim

Jerry Falwell

"I sincerely apologise that certain statements of mine made during an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims," Mr Falwell said in a statement.

"I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim."

In an interview conducted on 30 September for the 6 October edition of 60 Minutes, Mr Falwell said: "I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, (to decide) that he was a violent man, a man of war."

'Outrageous'

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, condemned Mr Falwell's remarks as an incitement to conflict.

"What this American priest said encourages war among civilisations and also increases crises and it should be confronted," Mr Kharrazi said.

He said the remarks were "part of a propaganda war by the US mass media and the Zionists".

Jerry Falwell
Falwell said the question he was asked was "loaded"

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Mr Falwell's remarks were "outrageous and insulting" and "as much an insult to me as a Christian as they are to Muslims".

Mr Falwell insisted that he has always respected other faiths.

"I have always shown respect for other religions, faiths and denominations," he said.

"Unfortunately, I answered one controversial and loaded question at the conclusion of an hour-long CBS interview which I should not have answered. That was a mistake and I apologise."

Protests

Protests against the remarks in the western Indian town of Solapur, 450 kilometres south-east of Bombay, gave way to violence between Hindus and Muslims that left at least eight people dead.

There were also protests against the remarks in Kashmir - and outside the CBS News offices in New York.

Mr Falwell, a leading figure of the American Christian right, is well-known for making controversial comments.

Shortly after the 11 September attacks, he said that gays, atheists, civil-rights activists and legal abortions in the US had angered God and "helped this happen".

In 1999, he denounced the BBC TV children's show The Teletubbies, because he believed one character, Tinky Winky, was homosexual.

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The BBC's Mark Duff
"American Muslims are horrified"
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07 Oct 02 | Americas
15 Feb 99 | Entertainment
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