Arab world broadly condemns kidnappingof French journalists

31st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

DUBAI, Aug 31 (AFP) - The Muslim world's top religious authorities joined the Arab media Tuesday in condemning the abduction in Iraq of two French journalists, branding it a "crime" against Islam and warning that executing them would be catastrophic for Iraq and Muslims.

DUBAI, Aug 31 (AFP) - The Muslim world's top religious authorities joined the Arab media Tuesday in condemning the abduction in Iraq of two French journalists, branding it a "crime" against Islam and warning that executing them would be catastrophic for Iraq and Muslims.  

The sheikh of Al-Azhar, the world's leading Sunni Muslim authority, "condemned" the kidnapping and said the act "contradicts the rules of the tolerant Muslim religion which calls for respect of human life, notably innocent (people)," the Egyptian press agency MENA reported.  

"Kidnapping civilians who enter Islamic countries through official channels .... and respect the laws of the country where they work, is inadmissable," Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi said.  

Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who went missing August 20, are being held by a Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq.  

The group gave France an initial 48-hour ultimatum to revoke a controversial law banning Islamic headscarves from state schools but has extended its ultimatum by 24 hours to Tuesday night.  

Dubai-based cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Qubaissi told AFP: "It's undeniably a crime. Nothing in Islam authorises threatening people to apply a precept of Sharia (Islamic law).  

"Wearing the veil is not a rite and not one of the pillars of Islam like prayer or fasting in the month of Ramadan. It's inadmissible to threaten to kill a human being to apply a rite," said Qubaissi, one of Iraq's most respected Sunni clerics.  

"If, unfortunately, the journalists are executed, it would be a catastrophe for Iraq, Islam and for the resistance, which would vanish without leaving a trace," he warned.  

In Damascus, Sunni leader Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro said: "The kidnappers should respond to calls launched worldwide and release the hostages. Such a gesture is to preserve Islam and Muslims."  

Emirati newspapaer Al-Khaleej said the kidnapping "serves the idea sponsored by US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and through them (Israeli Premier) Ariel Sharon, proving their allegations that every Arab and every Muslim is a terrorist.  

"The response to the kidnapping of Iraq by the American and British occupants should not be the kidnapping of foreign journalists coming to transmit to the world the true extent of the catastrophe" of the occupation of Iraq, it added.  

It was a view echoed by the English-language Khaleej Times.  

"Those who are resorting to such unreasonable acts in the name of Islam and Muslims must realise that they are not serving the cause of Iraqis or Islam by such dubious tactics," the daily said.  

"These despicable acts, however noble the cause inspiring them, will eventually deprive the Iraqi people of the international community's vital support."  

Qatar's Al-Raya said the kidnapping was "nothing to do with Islam," noting that "for the first time since the beginning of the shadowy kidnappings, the captors made demands not concerning Iraq.  

"France deserves to be treated better, because it is a European state in most solidarity with the Palestinian and Iraqi issues," the paper added.

The Kuwaiti Journalists' Association also called in a statement for the speedy release of the two Frenchmen saying the kidnappings "will only harm the image of the Arab and Islamic nation."  

In Israel, the right-wing Jerusalem Post lauded France's "refusal to bend to blackmail" but said the kidnappings showed that its opposition to the war in Iraq had not given it immunity from Islamic militants.  

"If nothing else, the kidnapping demonstrates that no policy, including a highly 'pro-Arab' one, will inoculate Western countries against terrorist attacks. Even more important, it shows the necessity of Western solidarity in response," it said in an editorial.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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