Iraqi kidnappings will not change headdress laws, says French government

The French government has said today that it will not give in to demands by Iraqi kidnappers that laws banning Islamic headscarves from schools should be shelved.

Iraqi militants have said that they would only free the two French journalists they are holding if laws forbidding religious garments in state-run schools are scrapped within 48 hours.

On Saturday, the Qatar-based news service Al Jazeera broadcast footage of the two journalists – Christian Chesnot of Radio France and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro – who are being held by a group calling itself the Islamic Army Of Iraq.

However, it is not clear what will happen to the hostages after tonight's deadline runs out.

According to Al Jazeera, the French government has sent two envoys to the Middle East to negotiate for the release of the two men.

At a press conference in Cairo, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier called for the journalists' release "in the name of principles of humanity and respect for the human being which are at the very heart of the message of Islam and the religious practices of Muslims".

The controversial law regarding religious dress comes into effect at the start of the new school year which begins next week.


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