France Refuses Demands of Hostage-Takers, Ban of Religious Symbols Goes Into Effect

September 2, 2004

Source: ABC News

Wire Service: AP

On September 2, 2004 the Associated Press reported, 'Millions of French students returned to school Thursday as a new law that bans Islamic head scarves from classrooms went into effect amid demands by Islamic radicals holding two French hostages in Iraq that the law be scrapped. Muslim leaders in France, who had largely opposed the law, urged calm for the return to class. It was not immediately clear whether any girls defied the law by wearing head scarves, as the opening of classes was staggered throughout the day. 'The hostage-takers are just waiting for a provocation,' Mohammed Bechari, a vice president of the French Council for the Muslim Faith, told Le Figaro newspaper. 'We must be responsible.' A Wednesday night deadline passed with no word of the fate the journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who disappeared Aug. 19 on their way from Baghdad to the southern city of Najaf. The French government has refused to cede to their demand to scrap the law."