Franklin Graham has said that Muslims kill Christians to "emulate" their leader Muhammed.
The evangelist and head of Samaritan's Purse is a long-time critic of Islam and has a history of controversial utterances about the faith. He has described it as a "religion of war" and "hatred" and said that true Islam cannot be practised in America because it sanctioned honour killings. He is a regular contributor to the conservative Fox News network and has condemned the Obama administration which he said "allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to become part of the US government and influence administration decisions".
Speaking in a Fox News interview reported by the Shoebat Foundation, Graham said: "Muhammed was a man of war and he killed many people. Jesus Christ came as a man of peace and as a follower of Christ I follow him and I want to emulate Him. But the followers of Islam are emulating the prophet Muhammed, and that's what you're seeing carried out."
Graham also warned those of Christian faith and others not to be fooled by the teachings of Islam. "We have to be very careful and understand that Islam, the teachings of Islam, are militant," he said.
While the invasion of Iraq had led to renewed Christian persecution, he added, Christians had always been persecuted in the region. "There used to be large Christian and Jewish communities in Saudi Arabia. But over the centuries, they have been exterminated by the Muslims. This isn't something that has just happened with ISIS. This has been going on for centuries and has been going on in Egypt.
"When those Egyptian men [Coptic Christians] had their heads cut off, that's not the first time. That's been going on in Egypt for a long time."
Graham's comments about Islam are regarded as incendiary and inaccurate by many commentators. A common critique is that he fails to appreciate most Muslims are entirely opposed to spreading their faith by violence and are horrified by the actions of Islamic State.
Former director of the Christian Muslim Forum Julian Bond told Christian Today: "What he is saying does not describe the reality. It takes no account of the Muslims who have denounced Islamic State. This is a wilful refusal to hear what Muslims are actually saying."