French Muslim delegation leave Iraqoptimistic for release of hostages

2nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

BAGHDAD, Sept 2 (AFP) - A delegation of French Muslim leaders visiting Iraq said Thursday it was confident that two French journalists held by Islamic extremists would be freed.

BAGHDAD, Sept 2 (AFP) - A delegation of French Muslim leaders visiting Iraq said Thursday it was confident that two French journalists held by Islamic extremists would be freed.  

"We leave with confidence and full of hope," delegation chief Abdullah Zekhri told AFP at the end of the short visit by the French Council for the Muslim Faith.  

"The kidnappers wish to free them but they do not know how to do it because they are afraid about the Americans and also that the hostages could fall into the hands of another group. These are the obstacles to freeing them."  

The two reporters - Le Figaro journalist Georges Malbrunot and Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot - have been held since August 20 by a radical Sunni organisation calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq.  

The group, implicated in several other kidnappings, has demanded that France rescind a law banning the Islamic headscarf in state schools which came into force Thursday.   Another delegation member, Fouad Allaoui, also sounded a positive note.  

"There are many reasons to be confident and not the contrary. Our mission is finished and I believe it was not in vain."  

The French delegation met in Baghdad with the Council of the Muslim Ulema (scholars), an association of conservative Sunni clerics who have helped mediate the previous release of hostages in Iraq.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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