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Attacks against veiled women in France trigger tensions

A beach towel reads "No to Islamophobia" written in the colours of the French flag lying in the sand of a 'beach' created by protesters outside the French Embassy in London on August 25, 2016, during a "Wear what you want beach party" to demonstrate against the ban on Burkinis on French beaches and to show solidarity with Muslim women. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned Wednesday against stigmatising Muslims, as a furore over the banning of burkinis grew with the emergence of pictures showing police surrounding a veiled woman on a beach. Dozens of French towns and villages, mostly on the Cote d'Azur, have banned beachwear that "conspicuously" shows a person's religion -- a measure aimed at the full-body Islamic swimsuit but which has also been used against women wearing long clothes and a headscarf. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A beach towel reads "No to Islamophobia" written in the colours of the French flag lying in the sand of a 'beach' created by protesters outside the French Embassy in London on August 25, 2016 [JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images]

A French lawyer has expressed deep concern over the recent assault of two veiled young Muslim women by police officers at the Pont de Clichy in the north-western part of the capital, Paris, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Video footage showing police officers involved in the incident on 14 April went viral, triggering tensions.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Nabil Boudi, who is representing the two plaintiffs, said while the incident was not new, there is a growing trend of violence against Muslims.

"Within one week, several attacks occurred on veiled women, the latest being that at the Pont de Clichy. Similar attacks have happened in Montpellier city, where two veiled girls were assaulted by a retired police officer, and another in an amphitheatre in Lyon," he said.

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Describing it as worrying, Boudi, a member of the Paris Bar, attributed the successive attacks to the "labelling of certain categories of French Muslims as enemies."

The fact that police officers orchestrate violence against Muslims compounds the problem, he said.

The lawyer said his clients wonder where they will report their cases, now that it is the police who are assaulting them.

The victims of the Pont de Clichy incident and the police officers are expected to meet at the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) in attempting to address the case.

Boudi also castigated an identity check subjected to one of his clients, which he said is regulated in France and must be justified by the commission of an offence.

"I consider that they (his clients) were victims of a racist and growing trend of Islamophobia. One of the police officers attacked one of the victims by trying to tear off her veil," he said, adding that a medical examination confirmed that the victims were assaulted.

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The police officers involved in the assault filed a case against the girls, accusing them of "contempt and rebellion." However, Boudi wondered how the police officers came up with the charges yet they did not arrest the alleged suspects.

The police only filed a complaint after video footage of the incident circulated on social media, he said.

"They know that they violated the law and that they have committed very serious offenses but filed a complaint to justify the violence," the lawyer said.

The two girls contend that it is a serious offense for persons holding public authority to orchestrate violence against people because of their religious affiliation.

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