Falwell apologizes amid calls for his death
"I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims," pastor Jerry Falwell said as international media swarmed with reports of fallout from last week's remarks. "I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim," he said. "I have always shown respect for other religions, faiths and denominations. … 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 apologize."
Muslim leaders accepted the apology. "It's good and fitting that he should apologize for remarks which hurt so many Muslims' feelings around the world," an unnamed Egyptian official told Reuters. "But people should really think before they speak, and make sure they really know about Islam before commenting on it."
Iranian foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also told the news service, "Because he said he did not want to deliberately offend Muslims and he apologized, that is a positive statement and we hope he won't repeat that mistake again. … At this time nobody should encourage hatred between different civilizations and different religious groups."
But this may not be the end of the story. Falwell was blamed for deadly riots between Muslims and Hindus in India over the weekend, and Iranian cleric Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari, an envoy of Iran's supreme leader, said Falwell was "a mercenary and must be killed. … The death of that man is a religious duty, his case should not be tied to the Christian community." (According to AFP, he also issued death orders for Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham.) ...1