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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Press steps up support for hostages
Demonstrators in Paris
Thousands rally in Paris

There is widespread concern in Tuesday's Arabic and French press over the plight of the two French journalists being held hostage in Iraq.

Their captors extended until Tuesday evening their ultimatum to France to repeal the law which bans Islamic headscarves in state schools.

All papers call for the immediate release of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, and many Arabic commentators, in particular, question the Muslim credentials of the hostage-takers - the Islamic Army of Iraq.

In France, the continuing tone of defiance in the national papers is now being reflected in the regional press too.

We urge the kidnappers of the two French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot to release them immediately and unconditionally. They are journalists who were only seeking the news and the truth, risking their lives in war zones.

Editorial in Jordan's al-Ray - "Free the French journalists"

The crisis arising from the kidnapping of the two French journalists is making observers of the Iraqi issue think seriously about this unusual development against a country which came out actively against the occupation of Iraq.

Editorial in UAE's al-Bayan - "Malicious hands in Iraq"

Since the abduction of foreigners started happening in Iraq, this is the first time the militants have made non-Iraqi demands. France deserves better treatment.

Editorial in Qatar's al-Rayah - "Abduction of French journalists has nothing in common with Islam"

Calling on France to repeal the law banning the headscarf only complicates matters: the main cause of such groups is to oppose the US occupation in Iraq, not to repeal French law.

Editorial in Egypt's al-Akhbar - "Abduction of French journalists muddies the water in Iraq"

There is no doubt that France and other Western countries played a crucial role in discrediting the US attack on Iraq and exposing its illegitimacy. The only honorable course for this Iraqi group is to free the journalists immediately.

Editorial in Egypt's al-Jumhuriyah - "Release the French journalists!"

Our call to the kidnappers of the French journalists is this: if you are Muslims, set them free.

Editorial in London-based al-Arab al-Alamiyah

Television newscasts leading with pictures of Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin flanked by leaders of various Muslim groups in France calling for the immediate release of the journalists have had the desired effect in the Arab world.

Le Figaro

The orchestrators of terror are trying to turn Islam into a tool with which to rally others to their war banner, but the trap set by the kidnappers has failed. Their isolation is now clear for all to see.


France has nothing to negotiate with the kidnappers, and they are beyond the reach of threats, which might be the only way of influencing them ... The support - sought and won - of Muslim figures for the French cause shows the isolation of the kidnappers, but will that be enough to sway them?


The kidnappers have lost. Their action has produced the opposite effect to what they were hoping for. After two days of anguish and mobilisation, France's unity is as strong as it has ever been.


The heavy pressure applied by the whole Arab world represents a glimmer of hope.

Le Parisien

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

French hostages plead for lives
30 Aug 04  |  Middle East

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