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Paris backs veil ban, police after `unacceptable` violence

The French government condemned as "unacceptable" weekend violence in a Paris suburb triggered by the country`s ban on full-face veils.

Updated: Jul 23, 2013, 09:07 AM IST

Trappes (France): The French government on Monday 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.

"It is a law against practices that have nothing to do with our traditions and our values, and the police did their work perfectly well."

He added that the bout of unrest -- the second to hit Paris suburbs in recent months over the same issue -- had now been "contained".

The violence kicked off on Friday evening, when some 400 people protested near the police station in Trappes, southwest of Paris.

They set fire to bins, destroyed bus stops and hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas. A 14-year-old boy suffered a serious eye injury and several police officers were also hurt.

The unrest continued on Saturday night, albeit to a lesser degree, and by Sunday a tense calm had been restored.

On Monday, an 18-year-old man received a six-month suspended sentence for throwing projectiles at the police, and another, a 21-year-old repeat offender, was sent to jail for 10 months and immediately taken into custody for the same offence.