US arms maker Spike's Tactical has produced an assault rifle with Christian symbols to prevent "Muslim terrorists" from using it. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' local chapter decried the marketing ploy.
In a controversial marketing bid, Florida-based company Spike's Tactical crafted an assault rifle with a cross of the Knights Templar - a Catholic order known for its escapades during the Crusades - and a passage from the bible.
The company said the "Cruzado" or "Crusader" assault rifle used Christian iconography in order to deter Muslims from using it.
"We wanted to make sure we built a weapon that would never be able to be used by Muslim terrorists to kill innocent people or advance their radical agenda," said company spokesperson Ben Thomas, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran.
"This ensures that no Muslim terrorist will ever pick up this weapon and use it to bring harm to another person," said Thomas. "That's actually my favorite part of the rifle."
However, the arms maker has been criticized by civil liberties organizations, with some calling it a "bad idea."
'Hatred, division and violence'
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) - a civil liberties association challenging stereotypes of Islam in the US - decried the marketing of the assault rifle.
"There's nothing actually stopping a white supremacist from getting their hands on that gun, from a potential mass shooter from getting their hands on that gun," said a statement by CAIR-FL spokesperson Ali Kurnaz.
"This is just another shameful marketing ploy intended to profit from the promotion of hatred, division and violence," said Kurnaz.
In the US, rightwing violence has claimed significantly more victims than apparent Islamist attacks since 9/11, according to Washington-based research center New America.
In June, a 21-year-old white supremacist entered a historically black church in Charleston wielding a .45-caliber Glock handgun and opened fire, killing nine African Americans.
ls/msh (AFP, dpa)