30 August 2004
IFJ Calls for Restraint as Death Threat Deadline Nears For French Journalists Held in Iraq
The International Federation of Journalists today urged Iraqi militants holding two French journalists hostage to exercise restraint while negotiations go ahead to try to secure their release.
Christian Chesnot, a reporter for Radio France Internationale, and Georges Malbrunot, a correspondent for the newspaper Le Figaro went missing on Friday. Their captors have threatened to execute them unless France lifts a ban on Muslim girls wearing traditional headscarves at state schools, which comes into effect this week.
“This is a critical moment in which diplomatic efforts are needed to solve the crisis,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Meanwhile, we appeal for restraint and humanity by those who have kidnapped our colleagues.”
The IFJ appeal comes after Muslim leaders in France yesterday joined political leaders in condemning the kidnapping of the journalists who were shown on a brief videotape sent to the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera.
“The taking of unarmed civilians and using them like this is intolerable,” said White. “Everything must be done to find a way of resolving differences without resorting to this type of political terror.”
Last week the IFJ condemned the killing of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni who was kidnapped and then executed in an attempt to force the Italian government to withdraw its troops from Iraq. “We have already lost one courageous colleague,” said White. “We must have an end to this.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.