Dubai: Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri slammed France`s move to ban Islamic face veils, saying Muslim women must hold on to their veils at any cost, in an audio tape posted online Wednesday.
"In France, the pioneer of secularism, there is an overt and shameless war on hijab (veil) and niqab (face cover)," he said in the tape posted on an Islamist website.
"What France is doing, which is spreading across Europe and the West, should prompt us to hold on to our true religion in face of their deviant ideologies," he said in the message
whose authenticity could not be verified.
"My Muslim sisters, hold on to your hijab, even if it would cost you your money, education and jobs. You are mujahedat (female holy warriors) in the most important battlefield," he said.
The law to ban the Muslim face cover, which was passed overwhelmingly by French lawmakers, reveals that freedom in the West is confined to "fighting Islam... and insulting the prophet, while banning anything touching anti-semitism, or questioning the Nazi Holocaust," he said.
"France cannot remove the head cover of a nun, but aggresses every Muslim woman wearing niqab, and every student covering her head," he said.