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France

France stands by Burqa ban as tensions calm in Paris suburbs

media Strong police presence in the Paris suburb of Trappes in July 2013 AFP/Fred Dufour

French riot police remain stationed in the riot-weary Paris suburb of Trappes, following weekend violence after a woman was stopped Thursday by police for wearing a face-covering niqab.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said French riot police remained on full alert Monday and will stay in place as long as necessary, adding that the violence has now been "contained".

He also defended the country's hotly contested ban that has outraged many in France's Muslim community.

"The law banning the full-face veil is law for women...It is not for a second a law against Islam," Valls told RTL radio.

On Friday night, at least 250 people in Trappes descended on the local police station in protest of France's ban of the Islamic veil, setting trash bins ablaze and hurling gas bombs and fireworks at officers, according to videos taken at the scene.

Nearly two dozen cars were torched and police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The violence left four police officers injured and six people detained. Police said one boy, 14, suffered a serious eye injury from a projectile.

The clashes erupted after Thursday's arrest of a man accused of assaulting a police officer after his wife was stopped and fined for wearing a full veil.

Prosecutor Vincent Lesclous told reporters that the man tried to strangle the police officer, however local Muslim groups deny this and say he was provoked.

On Saturday night, clashes spread to the neighbouring Western suburb of Élancourt and Guyancourt.

Violations of France's controversial veil ban, in place since April 2011, are punishable by a fine of up to 150 euros or mandatory citizenship training.

The ban elicited a similar disturbance last month after authorities stopped a woman, 25, in the northwest Paris suburb of Argenteuil for wearing a niqab.

Authorities say around 300 woman breached this law during its first year in place.

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