Bin Laden warns France over veil ban, Afghan war

Published: October 27, 2010
The al Qaeda leader blasted the French ban on full face Islamic veils. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

The al Qaeda leader blasted the French ban on full face Islamic veils. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

DUBAI: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned France on Wednesday that its planned ban on the veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified violence against its nationals.

France expressed concern and insisted on the need for vigilance, adding however that authorities were verifying the authenticity of the remarks. In an audio recording aired by Al-Jazeera television, Bin Laden said last month’s kidnapping of seven foreigners, five of them French, in the Sahara desert in northern Niger was a warning.

“How could you take part in occupying our countries and support the Americans in killing our children and women, and then expect to live in peace and security?” Bin Laden asked. “It is very simple — as you kill, you will be killed, as you take hostages, you will be taken hostages, and as you compromise our security, we will compromise your security,” he said in the message, which lasted 1 minute 55 seconds.

The al Qaeda leader warned the French government to pull its troops out of Afghanistan. “The way to protect your security is to bring your tyranny against our nation to an end, most importantly to withdraw from the damned war of (former US president George W) Bush in Afghanistan,” he said.

Responding to the message, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France is under “real” terror threat which needs “total vigilance.”

“We do know that the (terrorist) threat is real and vigilance must be total,” Hortefeux told a National Assembly meeting in Paris. “Based on what we currently know, these declarations only justify maintaining our response based on the terrorist threat,” he said, referring to France’s Vigipirate national security system which is now red alert — one down from the highest scarlet level. Hortefeux — who earlier this month said that Saudi security forces warned about an al Qaeda threat to Europe and to France in particular — said authorities were verifying the authenticity of the remarks.

“Supposing they’re authentic they would be part of various threats that have been made against our country and our nationals, abroad and in France.”

The seven hostages — five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan — were seized in a Niger uranium-mining town on the night of September 15-16. They are believed by intelligence agents in countries concerned to be held in an area of the Sahara desert in neighbouring Mali.

“The kidnapping of your experts in Niger… is in retaliation for the tyranny you practice against our Muslim nation,” Bin Laden said of the abductions, which have been claimed by al Qaeda’s North African branch. The message broadcast by Al-Jazeera was accompanied by a still photo of Bin Laden and a blurred picture of what appears to be policemen pulling off a woman’s veil to reveal her hair.

Bin Laden, who is believed hiding out in remote mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, highlighted the French parliament’s passing of a law last month banning the wearing of a full-face veil in public. The ban, which will come into force early next year if it is not overturned by senior judges, triggered criticism in some Muslim countries, with Islamic authorities in Asia warning that it could spark a violent backlash.

“As you wrongly have decided that you have the right to ban Muslim women from wearing the veil, is it not our right to drive out your conquerors by killing them?” Bin Laden asked.

Paris-based expert on Middle Eastern Islamist groups, Dominique Thomas, told AFP that the message was also a “blessing” to the al Qaeda militants who carried out the kidnappings. “By sending this message to France, Bin Laden also sends a message to… militants to thank them for the kidnapping,” Thomas told AFP. “It’s like a blessing.” “In his message, Bin Laden is saying: France undermines the values of Islam, so we injure its interests,” said the French expert.

“Today there is a real stigma against France, considered by al Qaeda as one of the major enemies of Islam and the Ummah (Islamic nation), along with the United States and Israel,” he said. The last message from the elusive al Qaeda chief was in early October, when he issued a call for aid to flood victims in Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • gem
    Oct 27, 2010 - 10:40PM

    “our women and our children”? Id rather be dead than be associated with him, murderer. This is not Islam. Recommend

  • Oct 28, 2010 - 6:04AM

    Erm? 5 Million French Muslims – the vast majority living in peace and as productive citizens, its time we all just grew up and got along as these kind of comments simply encourage the jahil mullahs to grow within muslim communitiesRecommend

  • Karim
    Oct 28, 2010 - 8:38AM

    Though no sane person would like to associate with Bin Laden’s interpretation of Islam, but it also is unfair on the part of the French to ban a certain dress which one chooses, may it be a Niqab or a headscarf or anything. Have they banned the ‘no dress’ choosers (Nudists). They have not, so why should they interfere in the personal freedom of a person to choose his/her type of dress.Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Oct 28, 2010 - 10:04AM

    First of all, burga or nakab predates Islam. It was & is a bedioun/tribal tradition (in ancient Arabia) & has nothing to with Islam. Where as Hijab, yes that is a part of Islamic traditions & practice.

    Burqa is a security threat due to idiots who believe bombing will solve problems faced by Islam & muslims. Gone are the days of Wars with swords & horses, gone are the days when muslims ruled half of the world. Please take a reality check, today its all about economics & education. We were the people (muslims) who gave this world medicine & mathematics & actually welfare state model.

    Now look at us, the reason is pretty simple, we refused to change with time. The rise of Islam is affiliated with medicine, research, education & trade. There were hugh libraries across the Islamic world, muslims were one of the most learned people back in those days, the reason Islam lost its glory was when traditions & practices over came education & reason/logic.

    Fanatics took control of everything & entangled us in following religious practices & tradition rather than religion. For us practices & traditions became more important than the message of Allah. Everyone made there own meanings & unfortunately now the torch bearers of Islam are mostly uneducated people.

    If we want to solve our problems (Muslims) worldwide, we should make ourselves economically strong & that can only be done with education & not by going all around the world killing people in the name of Islam & Jihad.

    You want to do Jihad, and then do Jihad against poverty, corruption, Illiteracy in the muslim world. Sitting in a mountain in Afghanistan or Pakistan & passing orders to bomb shrines & public places will not solve anything. The only outcome of all this will be more Bad name & feeling of resentment for Islam.Recommend

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