Many Westerners misunderstand France’s headscarf ban. I have criticized it myself for being a cosmetic measure when a realistic confrontation with radical Islam’s Sharia imperative is called for. However, it also may be just that: a sign that French officials are aware that sometimes a scarf is not just a scarf, but a first step in a plan to institute Islamic law in the nation. From CNN, :
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) — The French government has said it will not revoke a law banning Muslim headscarves in public schools, despite demands by a militant Islamic group holding two French journalists hostage in Iraq.
“The law will be applied,” spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told Canal Plus television Monday.
Meanwhile Monday, France’s Foreign Minister Michel Barnier visited Egyptian government officials and Arab leaders but said there was no new word on the journalists’ fate.
Following a meeting with Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, Barnier said the journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, were still missing.
“We have had no further contact, again no contact but we are making all efforts to attain their immediate freedom,” said Barnier.
“Our embassy in Baghdad knows the region has sent representatives to the region to explore all routes, gather all information possible and make all contacts possible to secure their release, we have experience in these matters, it requires discretion, basically we are seeking a guarantee of their security.”
On Sunday, French officials including President Jacques Chirac condemned the abduction of the two journalists.
Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin told reporters: “Today, the whole nation is united because the life of two Frenchmen is at stake as well as freedom of expression and the values of the republic.”
He added: “From the first day, everything, let me repeat it, everything, has been done to obtain their release. The government is totally mobilized.”
Aides to the minister said Barnier would visit several countries, but did not identify which.
Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin demanded the group, calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, release Radio France International’s Chesnot and Le Figaro’s Malbruno, who were reported missing August 21 on their way from Baghdad to Najaf.
“France is the country of the French revolution, of human rights,” said de Villepin. “France has never stopped fighting for the freedom of all, for tolerance and the respect of the human being.
“The French people as a whole, all origins and religions together, are together behind our compatriots Christian and Georges. Together we demand that they be set free.”
According to the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera, the kidnappers are part of the same group that claimed to have kidnapped an Italian journalist and killed him after Italy refused to withdraw its troops from Iraq.