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Falwell Apologizes After Remarks Enrage Muslims

October 13, 2002|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Conservative U.S. preacher Jerry Falwell apologized Saturday for calling the prophet Muhammad a terrorist, saying he meant no disrespect to "any sincere, law-abiding Muslim."

The apology came after top Iranian and British officials condemned the remarks, which Falwell made last week in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes."

"I think Muhammad was a terrorist ... a man of war," Falwell said in the interview.

The comments angered Muslims around the world, triggering Hindu-Muslim clashes in India that left at least nine people dead.

Iranian cleric Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari, addressing Friday prayers in the northwestern town of Tabriz, said Falwell was a "mercenary and must be killed," the Persian-language daily Abrar reported Saturday.

In Lebanon on Saturday, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah called on Muslim countries to respond to Falwell who, he said, had "infringed on the prophet's dignity." Fadlallah cautioned against resorting to violence.

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