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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 29, 1997


I strongly condemn the vandalism of the Islamic star and crescent displayed on the Ellipse in front of the White House. This year for the first time, an Islamic symbol was displayed along with the National Christmas Tree and the menorah. The desecration of that symbol is the embodiment of intolerance that strikes at the heart of what it means to be an American.

It is especially hurtful that such an act would occur at a time when so many communities are coming together to celebrate their respective religions. The holiday season holds special meaning for us in America, where freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

This Administration will continue to fight against such acts of desecration and hate crimes that tear at the fabric of community life in America. Desecration of a religious symbol motivated by prejudice and hatred hurts us all.