- WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defence Department officials are expressing dismay about
"thoughtless graffiti" referring to the Islamic holy month of
Ramadan on a navy bomb being prepared for dropping on Iraq. The Associated
Press transmitted a photograph last weekend of a 900-kilogram laser-guided
bomb on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Persian Gulf waiting
to be loaded on F-14 and F-18 jet fighters.
The bomb bore several inscriptions, including one that said, "Here's
a Ramadan present from Chad Rickenberg."
"Department of Defence officials were distressed to learn of thoughtless
graffiti mentioning the holy month of Ramadan written on a piece of U.S.
ordnance during Operation Desert Fox" in Iraq, chief Pentagon spokesman
Kenneth Bacon said Monday in a statement. "Religious intolerance
is an anathema to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and to all Americans
who cherish the right to worship freely," he added. "The United
States deeply respects Islam. We are grateful for our good relations with
Arab and Islamic peoples, and we appreciate the important contributions
of Muslim-Americans to the U.S. military and to our nation as a whole.
"I know our people in uniform respect and appreciate religious practices
different from their own. This incident is a rare exception that does not
reflect American policy or values."