Al Qaeda warns France of revenge for burka stance
Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing threatened on Tuesday to take revenge on France for its opposition to the burka, calling on Muslims to retaliate against the country, the US monitoring service SITE Intelligencereported.
Earlier this month, President Nicolas Sarkozy said the burka, which covers the whole face, was not welcome in the strictly secular country.
"Yesterday was the hijab (the Islamic headscarf long banned in French schools) and today, it is the niqab (the full veil)," Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was quoted as saying.
"We will take revenge for the honour of our daughters and sisters against France and against its interests by every means at our disposal."
The group also called on Muslims to retaliate for what it called French "hostility" against the community and its attempt to obstruct Islam's practice on its territory.
"For us, the mujahedeen ... we will not remain silent to such provocations and injustices," Abdul Wadud said without elaborating, according to SITE.
"We call upon all Muslims to confront this hostility with greater hostility, and to counter France's efforts to divide male and female believers from their faith with a greater effort ... (by) adherence to the teachings of their Islamic sharia."
On June 22, Sarkozy said the burka was not a symbol of religious faith but a sign of women's "subservience," adding that the head-to-toe veil was "not welcome" in staunchly secular France.
France is home to Europe's largest Muslim community and faces a dilemma between accommodating Islam and maintaining secularism. In 2004, it passed a law banning headscarves or any other "conspicuous" religious symbols in schools to uphold a separation between church and state.
Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri criticized the law, saying the decision showed "the grudge the Western crusaders have against Islam."