Cars torched near Paris over veil ban

TRAPPES, France — Riot police patrolled Sunday in suburbs west of Paris after cars were torched and a police station attacked amid tensions linked to authorities’ handling of France’s ban on Muslim face veils.

Some 20 cars were set ablaze Saturday night and four people detained in a second night of violence, officials said Sunday. Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the latest incidents targeted the town of Elancourt.

The second night of unrest seemed less intense and appeared to involve fewer people than the night before, when some 250 people clashed with police in the nearby town of Trappes.


Still, the interior minister insisted that extra police will remain deployed in the area and stay as long as needed until calm returns.

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The violence evoked memories of weeks of car torchings and clashes with police in neglected neighborhoods around France in 2005.

That rioting was sparked by the deaths of two teens who were electrocuted while hiding from police, as people around the country — many of them jobless youth from poor, immigrant backgrounds — unleashed pent-up frustrations on police and public property.

Although the government has poured money into projects to solve some of the problems that led to that rioting, tensions remain.

The violence began Friday in Trappes after a group of residents gathered at the police station to protest the arrest of a man whose wife was ticketed the day before for wearing a face veil. The regional prosecutor said the husband tried to strangle the officer who was doing the ticketing.


France has barred face veils since 2011. Proponents of the ban argue that the veil oppresses women and contradicts France’s principles of secularism, which are enshrined in the constitution.

The ban affects only a very small minority of French Muslims, but some say it feeds discrimination against moderate Muslims, too.

Associated Press