That Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell doesn't think highly of Muhammad is hardly surprising, but his comment that the founder of Islam was a terrorist makes a lot of headlines today. "I think Mohammed was a terrorist," he says in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday's 60 Minutes. "I read enough … by both Muslims and non-Muslims [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war."
CBS is really playing up the quote in promoting Sunday's show, but other news sources are quick to point out that he was baited. The word terrorist wasn't his own — it was that of interviewer Bob Simon.
The Associated Press that "Simon asked directly whether Falwell considered Muhammad a terrorist and he tried to reply honestly. The minister said he would never state his opinion in a sermon or book."
"I've said often and many places that most Muslims are people of peace and want peace and tranquility for their families and abhor terrorism," Falwell told the news service. "Islam, like most faiths, has a fringe of radicals who carry on bloodshed wherever they are. They do not represent Islam."
Falwell made a similar statement to the conservative website WorldNetDaily. "My intent was not to attack Muhammad," he told reporter Art Moore. "I have avoided that. But [Simon] was pressing me on the issue of Muhammad's behavior, his involvement in war, and I simply said what I do believe, that Muhammad is not a good example for most Muslim people." (For more, see Falwell.com's "Historical Data About Muhammad.")
The Council on American-Islamic Relations responds: "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 ...1