French hostages in Iraq urgerepeal of headscarf ban

31st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

DOHA, Aug 30 (AFP) - Two French journalists held hostage by Islamist captors in Iraq were shown in a video on Al-Jazeera TV Monday urging the French government to revoke a ban on Islamic headscarves and warning that their lives were at stake.

DOHA, Aug 30 (AFP) - Two French journalists held hostage by Islamist captors in Iraq were shown in a video on Al-Jazeera TV Monday urging the French government to revoke a ban on Islamic headscarves and warning that their lives were at stake.  

The appeal by Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper, who also called on their compatriots to demonstrate against the ban, came as Al-Jazeera reported that their captors had extended by 24 hours an ultimatum to Paris.  

"I call on President (Jacques) Chirac and the French government to show good will toward the Arab and Islamic worlds by revoking the ban on wearing the hijab immediately," said Chesnot, speaking in English with an Arabic voice-over.  

"I also urge all French citizens to demonstrate against this law and demand its annulment because it is unfair and wrong.  

"Failure to revoke it might cost us our lives. It's a question of time - maybe minutes - before we are among the dead," said Chesnot, shown wearing a black shirt.  

But Al-Jazeera, which aired the video less than two hours after the expiry of a 48-hour deadline set by the kidnappers, reported that the captors from the Islamic Army of Iraq had extended by 24 hours the ultimatum to Paris to scrap the ban on the headscarves in state schools.  

"In response to the two hostages' quest to convey their voice (views) to their people and government, the Islamic Army of Iraq has decided to extend the deadline by 24 hours," said a statement from the group received by the news channel.  

"I appeal to the French people and every Frenchman who appreciates the meaning of life to stage demonstrations demanding that the law banning the hijab be revoked because our lives are in danger and we might die any minute if this law, which I urge President Chirac to revoke, is not abrogated," Malbrunot said.  

Malbrunot, wearing a black and white T-shirt, also spoke in English with an Arabic voice-over.  

The shirts were the same worn by the two journalists, who appeared weary, when they were shown briefly on Saturday night by Al-Jazeera when it broke news of their abduction.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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