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French govt backs veil ban

French government on Tuesday condemned as ‘unacceptable’ weekend violence in a Paris suburb triggered by the country’s ban on full-face veils and strongly defended the controversial law.Two senior members of the government, Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and interior minister Manuel Valls, spoke following the violence in the suburb of Trappes.

The unrest erupted after a man was detained for allegedly attacking a police officer who had stopped his wife over her full-face veil -- a practice that is banned in France, outraging some in the Muslim community.

Ayrault said the subsequent violence was ‘unacceptable’ and called on everyone to respect the law. Speaking in Grenoble, Ayrault said: ‘We are a state of law in a republic and the law must be respected by all.... It is the role of the police and the role of justice to enforce it. Laws cannot simply be enforced by waving a magic wand.’

He added that ‘what had happened in Trappe in the last few days is unacceptable’.
Ayrault also called on the rightwing opposition to act ‘responsibly’ and back the government as, he said, the Socialists had in 2005 during another period of suburban rioting. Valls earlier said there would be no retreat from the law on veils.
‘The law banning the full-face veil is a law for women.... It is not for a second a law against Islam,’ he told RTL radio.
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