Dalai Lama visits the Alabama church that played a key role in America's civil rights movement

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, talks with Birmingham mayor William Bell during an interview at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama October 25, 2014.(Credit: Reuters/Sherrel Wheeler Stewart)

The Dalai Lama paid a visit Saturday to the church in Birmingham, Alabama, that came to be at the heart of the struggle for racial equality in America.

Four African-American girls were killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church when it was the target of a bomb attack in 1963.

Martin Luther King Jr and other leaders in the civil rights movement also frequented the church and used it as the launching point for their drives against inequality.

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, was received at the historic church by Birmingham Mayor William Bell on Saturday.

Speaking at the church, the Dalai Lama paid tribute to King and the freedoms the people of America are able to enjoy today as a result of his efforts.

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"Human rights starts from within," the Dalai Lama said, according to Reuters.

"Martin Luther King was important to the acceptance of civil rights. Now the American people, majority are white, accept the reality."

However, he warned that there was another kind of inequality threatening the peace of society.

"Because of the economic situation, there is frustration. Frustration brings anger. Then anger brings violence," he said. 

"There are no billionaires in Tibet. There is no gap."

Reuters reported that during the Dalai Lama's tour of the church, around 300 people were gathered outside, some in support, others protesting.

The protesters came from the International Shugden Community, which alleges persecution under the Dalai Lama for following the Buddhist deity Dorje Shugden that he has spoken against.

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