In new tape: Al Qaeda no. 2 slams French decision to ban Islamic veil as Pakistan troops launch fresh hunt for bin Laden
The Al Qaeda network's number two leader Ayman al-Zawahri condemned recent French measures to ban the Muslim veil in government schools in a new tape aired by Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV Tuesday morning, as the hunt for Osama bin Laden continued on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The tape was broadcast in an apparent referral to the French parliament's vote earlier this month to ban religious symbols in state schools.
An official at the Al Arabiya station, requesting anonymity, said the tape was received Tuesday, "just minutes before taking it to air." The official added the tape was not aired in its entirety, "only what was newsworthy and what we thought was new."
"This is a new indication of the Crusader hatred which Westerners harbour against Muslims while they boast of freedom, democracy and human rights," the voice, which sounded like previous audio tapes attributed to Zawahri, stated.
"France is the country of freedom which defends freedom to show one's body, and to be immoral and depraved. In France, you're free to show yourself but not to dress in a modest manner," Zawahri said.
"This is a campaign planned by the Crusader Zionists with their agents in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia and other Islamic countries," Zawahri said.
The voice on the tape said the headscarf decision was in the context of the ongoing campaign against Islam. "Banning the headscarves in France is in line with burning villages with its inhabitants in Afghanistan, bringing houses down on the heads of sleeping Palestinians, with killing children in Iraq and robbing their oil using false pretexts ... (and) torturing them (Muslims) in the cells of Guantanamo," the tape said.
Meanwhile, Pakistani troops backed by helicopters on Tuesday swept through villages in a remote border region where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding in an operation to capture fugitive Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.
The searches near the town of Wana, just a few miles from the border with Afghanistan, began after dawn, as paramilitary and army troops moved into areas where the fugitives are believed to have taken refuge among local tribes. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)