Evangelist's views on Islam draw critics in Winnipeg

Protesters in Winnipeg expressed opposition to the political views of visiting U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham, who has harshly criticized Islam.

Controversy over past comments about Islamfollowed U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham toWinnipeg, where he wrapped upa three-day Christian festival on Sunday.

Graham has been quoted calling on the U.S. "to use weapons of mass destruction if need be"and referring to Islam as "a very evil and a very wicked religion."

Outside the MTS Centre,other Christianshave been trying to remind peoplethey don't shareGraham's message.

"We're handing out leaflets to passersby to encourage them to embrace the gospel of full love for all people, which includes praying, but also not dropping bombs or saying hateful things," saidMennonite protester Aiden Enns onFriday.

Festival organizer Dan Klug saidpeople of all faiths were welcome to attend the events and that theson of evangelist Billy Graham did not come to Winnipeg to cause controversy.

"I know Franklin has said statements critical of Islam — the teachings of Islam — but he has an affinity and deep heart for the Muslim people," Klug said.

In aninterview with CBC News, Graham said he "hasn't seen anything" to change his mind about Islam, but he doesn't harbour the same negative assessment of the people who follow that religion.

"There are millionsand millions of Muslims in the world. I certainly respect and admire their sincerity, but I feel sorry for them," he said.

Winnipeg is the only Canadian stop on the 2006 Franklin Graham Tour.