Biblical rifle stamps to be stopped
Published 22/01/2010 | 08:18
A defence contractor in the US has said it will stop stamping bible references on rifle sights sold to the US Army and Marines and the Australian and New Zealand military.
In Britain, the Ministry of Defence bought 400 of the sights for the Army's Sharpshooter assault rifle, unaware of the biblical references.
The references to Bible passages raised concerns that the citations broke a US government rule that bars proselytising by US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are predominantly Muslim countries.
In a statement Trijicon of Wixom, Michigan, said it is also providing free modification kits to the armed forces to remove the citations from the telescopic sights already in use.
The US Marine Corps and US Army have bought more than 300,000 Trijicon sights.
A spokesman for US Central Command initially said the Trijicon sights did not break the ban and compared the citations on the sights with the "In God We Trust" inscription on US currency.
But on Thursday, army general David Petraeus, central command's top officer, called the practice "disturbing".
He told an audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington: "This is a serious concern to me and the other commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan."
In a statement issued later, General Petraeus said "cultural and religious sensitivities are important considerations in the conduct of military operations".
New Zealand announced that it will remove the citations from the sights and Australia is considering the situation.