DUBAI - The Islamic Army of Iraq, which is holding two French journalists hostage, said Tuesday night that France is an "enemy of Muslims," in a statement on a website that gave no details on the fate of the captives.
The statement, carried on http://iaminiraq.tripod.com, cited France with a list of "crimes" that France had allegedly carried out against numerous Muslim countries.
"France has distinguished itself for its war against Islam and Muslims and has committed butchery against the nation," said the statement, whose authenticity could not be verified.
"France's history with Muslims is a black one, blemished by hatred and malice and blood. Its modern history is no less so that in the past," the statement added, calling on the "Islamic nation to unite against its enemies," such as France.
It accused France of "playing a principle role in blocking Muslims from taking power in Algeria after their victory" in 1992 legislative elections.
It said French prisons are "full of Muslims" being held in the name of the fight against terrorism, while denouncing continuing French support for the "Zionist entity" (Israel) and its "war against the symbols of Islam, such as the headscarf" for women.
The French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, along with their Syrian driver, were kidnapped on August 20.
The hostage-takers initially demanded that Paris rescind its ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves and other "conspicuous" religious insignia in state schools, but the law went into effect on September 2 as planned.
After an unprecedented wave of condemnations from the Arab and Muslim worlds, the group seemed set to release the men but for the past week there has been no news.
The statement said "true professionals, be they journalists, doctors or others, who do not carry out any activity of sabotage ... are not the target of the Islamic Army," the statement said.
"We respect those who are on a genuine humanitarian mission ... and are not pursuing missionary or intelligence objectives."
"The Islamic Army has an organism for sharia (Islamic law) to settle such matters by a fatwa (religious decree) in conformity with the Book (the Koran) and Sunna (Islamic tradition). The Islamic Army respects the ulemas (Muslim scholars) of the nation."
The statement accused France of "active participation in starving the Iraqi people for 12 years," an allusion to UN sanctions on the regime of Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War.
And it ridiculed France's refusal to participate in the US-led war on Iraq last year, saying that was calculated to "protect its own interests and not to please the Iraqis."
The statement allso accused France of "active participation in the Israeli air strike against Iraq's Osirak power plant" in 1981 by "providing sensitive and precise intelligence on the plan to the Zionist enemy."
The statement went on to include a long litany of grievances involving alleged French meddling in the affairs of Syria and Lebanon "to serve the interests of Jews and Zionists," of combating the Arabic language and Islamic law in former colony Tunisia, of seeking to divide Sudan and make Chad a French base.
Morocco and Mauritania were also listed as victims, while France was also accused of "effectively participating in the war in Afghanistan" against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
In Paris, the foreign ministry said it was analyzing the statement.
On Monday, French Foreign Minister said that, according to information he had, the hostages were alive and being well treated.