France Refuses to Grant Kidnappers' Demands to Repeal Headscarf Ban

August 30, 2004

Source: ABC News Online

Wire Service: AFP

On August 30, 2004 Agence France-Presse reported, "France has vowed not to yield to Iraqi kidnappers who have taken two journalists hostage and are demanding the repeal of a law that bans the Islamic headscarf in state schools. Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope says the law would come into effect as planned at the start of the academic year on Thursday. 'The law will be applied,' Mr. Cope told Canal Plus television. Asked if there was any chance of the ban being suspended, Mr Cope said: 'That is not the way to look at the problem. Our aim is to reject any link between the two issues and to emphasise the fact that the values of the French republic are a reference for the world. These are values of tolerance, respect and above all the principle that in France anyone can exercise his or her religion, while respecting those of others,' he said. Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has arrived in Cairo to try and secure the release of the hostages. The Islamic Army in Iraq said late on Saturday that it was giving France 48 hours to rescind the headscarf ban."