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Author`s name Ольга Савка

Hijab as a symbol of struggle with 'Western Crusaders'

It is not ruled out that the hostage-taking incident in Iraq was not an initiative of local militants

The fact of kidnapping foreign citizens in Iraq has unfortunately become a usual event to happen. As a rule, kidnappers ask either for the immediate withdrawal of occupation troops (as it happened with American, Italian and Japanese citizens), or they want to make other countries stop supporting USA's policy in Iraq (when they held Jordanian and Lebanese citizens hostage). The recent incident with two French nationals stands out of this tendency. Two French journalists have been kidnapped because of the new French law banning the wearing of hijabs in public schools. The new law is to come into effect on September 1.

Christian Chesnot, who worked in Iraq at Radio France International and fellow hostage Georges Malbrunot, a special correspondent of Le Figaro, were reported missing on August 20. Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV channel aired two video tapes on August 28, showing Islamic militants from a group called “The Islam Army of Iraq.” The gunmen gave the French government 48 hours to cancel the law, which banned the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public institutions.

The French government rejected the demand, of course. The opposition, public organizations, leaders of the French Muslim community supported the government's decision. Even Muslim leaders condemned the kidnapping of two French journalists. The secretary general of the Union of French Islamic Organizations, Fouad Olwi, was very calm in his statement that he released soon after the news. Olwi called upon Muslim students to respect the law, which banned the open demonstration of conspicuous religious symbolism.

It is hard to suppose anyone in the French government thought about such an effect of the new law. The story with the two kidnapped French journalists proved that Muslim organizations have become an influential force, the opinion of which is impossible to ignore. Many of such organizations have associates all over the world. In addition, they stand out for their radical views. It is not ruled out that the hostage-taking incident in Iraq was not an initiative of local militants.

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